Timelines: from an early age I learned the importance of them. In elementary school, that’s how my social studies teacher taught the topic of class daily, by drawing a timeline on the plastic projector sheets and explaining the order of events in history. For many years, I thought that time was linear, that my experiences were but a tick on a line that is my life. That includes the order of how things are supposed to go. 

How naive was I to think that my life had a linear order to it? 

But that’s what was ingrained in me: graduate high school, go to college, graduate college, go to grad school, get married and have a family amongst having a successful career post-grad. And that’s what I wanted for a really long time. But then the curtain of naivety started to disintegrate and I learned about life’s curve balls and the peaks and the valleys of my timeline. I also learned that this timeline in my head was not something that I created, but something that my environment and the factors surrounding it created.

Small town living and socialization had taught me that having a family of my own was of utmost importance. Ambition drove me to leave my hometown and I wanted to adjust my timeline to have it all and within what I considered the correct amount of time. But what is the correct amount of time? Who is to determine deadlines of major life events? Should I be married by 25? Should I even go to graduate school at all or should I have all of my degrees by 28? 

I recently got engaged to my best friend. We haven’t known each other for long. Our dating to engaged timeline may not be ideal for most outsiders. But we determined our own timeline and I’m glad that I’ve learned the lesson of living and making your own experiences instead of adhering to a societal/environmental timeline.

We’ve been discussing the timeline of our engagement and the plans of our wedding. Our timeline may not be to everyone’s liking. I didn’t go to graduate school directly after college and I may never go to graduate school. The lesson here is that you shouldn’t force yourself to do something you’re not comfortable with in order to adhere to a timeline that was ingrained in you as a child or one that other people have created for you.

I whole heartedly believe in gut feelings and following your dreams and those gut feelings and dreams don’t always fit into a nice, neat timeline. Life is messy. Don’t stress yourself out by feeling I inadequate because of your timeline because you’re definitely not. 

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