During college graduation week this year, I walked from my downtown office building to the Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina for exercise. As I made my way into the entrance, the charm of the grove and the beauty of the old buildings made me happy.
Just after 5 p.m., the sunglow danced along the paths and broke through the branches and the trees. Groups of seniors and their friends gathered on the paths and lounged on blankets in the grass. Young women wore little white dresses – romantic and whimsical, chic and form-fitting, short and cute, long and demure.
Posed in front of their Canon clutching photographers, the girls were magical even though the wind whipped their hems and they struggled to keep their graduation caps on their long curls. Their faces beamed with the pride for their accomplishment and their expectation of what lies ahead.
I moved along; I didn’t want to be the 30-something chick in gym shorts and a pocket tee photo-bombing their keepsakes. Huffing along the paths, I thought about my last days of college about ten years ago. I was full of hope and pride as well. At the same time, I was anxious about the uncertainty of what was yet to be. I had expectations about what life as a ‘real adult’ would be like and I can say now that at 33, sometimes I still am not sure I am a ‘real adult’. Am I alone in that self-doubt?
When I graduated I imagined I could chase my dreams and do whatever I put my mind to do; I wanted to become a magazine editor, an accomplished writer, an artist, a mother, a wife, a world traveler, start my own business, become a botanical farmer, sell handmade soaps at festivals, have a second home on Nantucket, cook like Ina Garten, craft like Martha Stewart, become a genealogist, have my home featured in Southern Living Magazine, be an active alumna of my sorority, maintain all of my long distance friendships, drink mimosas daily, never get divorced, and finally lose weight. I would become a super organized woman who could do it all and be it all without breaking a sweat.
Life didn’t quite go that way and the ambitious side of me deals in self-loathing because of it. The other part of me, the one that lives in my real life and not in my dream world, accepts it. I have big ideas about who I am and who I should be, but I sometimes find out, in reality, I need a simple life.
I am a mother of two young children and too much going on overwhelms me right now. That doesn’t mean that I won’t chase my dreams; it means that it’s okay to not be all things all the time. Despite all that I am not, I am learning to accept that I am enough.