Taking Inventory

If you asked most people, they would probably admit that their life just doesn’t look quite like they had imagined it would. My life is not really anything like what I pictured when I went off to college, young, naive, and still really new to the world around me.

There are days when I wonder how I got off track…I had such a mission and vision for my life back then. A passion to make the world better, and a great big bunch of hope that the world could be better.

Where did that hope go? When did wanting to change the world morph into wanting to make it to the next paycheck? When did that dream of spreading hope to others pass into dreaming of when I can lay my head back down on my pillow? When did wanting to stand against darkness fade into just wanting to go sit back down with a heating pad and a bowl of vanilla ice cream?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter what we wanted 20 years ago. We can’t go back, we can’t ever re-enter that time in our lives when we were so energetic and passionate and wanting to make a difference. We traded our enthusiasm for experience and it shows in our stringy grey hairs, and squishy squint lines, and crepe skin, I suppose. We’ve lost so much and we gained some things we didn’t expect, as well.

We used to be excited to learn new things, and now we giggle nervously when we have to approach something fresh, when we embrace a new idea or are tempted to post in a new app. Learning new skills and trying new things used to be our normal, daily operation, not a class that we sign up for or a seminar we attend.

I am convinced that a large part of why we ‘grown-ups’ are so tired is that we’ve lost that wide-eyed wonder with which we used to view the world. When every day was a new experience and each morning we hopped out of bed, ready to slay pretend dragons because we didn’t need to face any real live dungeon-master disasters or dragon-like firy problems. We had reserves of energy, ready to be spent frivolously on fun – and now, our energy is spent before we’ve even had the chance to nourish it awake.

Experience is a heavy weight and I often wish that we could set it down. So what if we just stopped in our tracks, and took an inventory of where we are. Set those heavy weights down for just a moment, to reconcile the life ledger that constantly runs through the back of our head. Some of us might be excited to see how far we’ve come, while others of us, ashamed, or simply weary of where the world has brought us. Or maybe, all of the above.

Where we are isn’t the end of our story, of course. We know this to be true, else we wouldn’t ever pour another cup of coffee or put on our big girl pants to slay the day. But we also know that making changes is hard, and sometimes, it is entirely worth it to stay the course we ended up taking.

But we’ll never know unless we ask ourselves the hard questions. Am I happy in this space? Am I fulfilled? Is where I am worth it or will it bring more regrets than peace?

Did I get off the track I need to take or did I lose my way entirely? Or have I created an entirely new route, uniquely fitted for me?

As women, it is so easy to lose ourselves to raising kids, supporting our spouses, and helping others. We forget what actually makes us tick. We make ourselves smaller so others can be larger than life. And over time, the little things turn into bigger things and we get to our middle age and realize we’re not even sure who we are anymore. But that’s ok. We can still be found.

We can’t ever go back, and most of us wouldn’t even want to. But we can pick back up, recover some of the pieces we lost, and create things that are new and fulfilling in ways we never could have imagined.

Take a moment, just for you. Allow yourself to wander in your thoughts, to daydream. If you couldn’t fail, what is it you would do today? What pieces of your life are missing that you would like to fill with something new? If your life could take a new direction, where would you want it to go? What do you love in your life and what do you want more of?

Give yourself the gift of a dream, whether something as small as a hot cup of coffee and a good book or something bigger, like a career. If you could reinvent yourself for even just a day, who would you be? Would you be your friend? Would you have hope?

No, we can’t and we don’t want to go back. But what do we want? I know what it is I want. And maybe you are the same.

I want to face each day with the energy and excitement of my small children, who can’t contain themselves to their beds for one more minute when there are so many things to experience, and learn, and understand. I want to jump out of my bed each day, ready to tackle my kingdoms, forge new paths, and experience, in wonder and amazement, the world around me.