“Are you dating anyone?” “So, any boys?” “ Well why not, what’s wrong with you?” “Did you hear that ___ is getting married? “Isn’t she younger than you?”
These are the constant messages I’ve been hearing for the last 10 years. So it’s no surprise that my mindset has been influenced by this belief that in order to be happy, successful and enough I need to reach certain milestones. This is the real deal for so many girls right now. I see you shaking your head and whispering to yourself. When we have nothing to deliver (literally - no mans in my case) to these table conversations with family or friends there is that added pressure over the years that we end up putting on ourselves.
When you go through loss or a traumatic/impactful change as a young person there is the processing, working through and surviving the years ahead. For me, it took a span of 8 years to get into a healthy place ( healthy coping strategies, tools in place, great support system, reprocessing my trauma with the support of a therapist and working on strained relationships due to the stress of loss). This is aside from the pressure to reach those societal reinforced milestones ( marriage, babies, financial stability, dream job and house).
Social media is such an amazing way to connect and find community but it can also be counter productive to our healing depending on where we’re at in it. For me, I would compare myself to others who’s life was advancing by the standards I grew up to believe were solid. I had no hard feelings but it would further make me feel like I wasn’t enough and honestly, quite sad. When you go through something so profound as a youth or young woman such as grief, you can experience feelings of isolation. It’s natural because we are so invested in our support circle and are reminded of what is going on in their world. It’s natural to compare; it’s there and inevitable. It’s natural to want great things for ourselves. But is it by your definition? It’s about what we do with those feelings I found to be the most beneficial to my own mental health.
I worried so much about not growing and not reaching the same milestones as my peers. For so many years grief consumed me - I was stuck, I was still and I was in survival mode. When I stepped back from these feelings of worry from "not being where I should be" I was able to see that I had been growing this entire time. It looked different for me than what I was seeing on social media and around me. But, it was still enough. It is enough and I’m exactly where I need to be.
So what if I haven’t found my life partner, bought a place of my own or have had children? That couldn’t be it for ALL people in their 20s. During the duration of my 20s, I had completed a university degree, an advanced diploma, have had about 7 jobs (probably have gone through 20 in person interviews), have tried various treatments to support my mental health (acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, therapy, EMDR, reiki healing etc.), have gone through 2 surgeries along with many health scares, created the community of my teenage dreams as a healthy healing adult and have mourned the loss of my friend, my dad, my grandparents and two uncles throughout. Those were each big milestones for me in the sense of them being impactful points in my journey and growth.
We all experience the pressures (from ourselves, our families, our cultural upbringing) and it’s honestly really tough sometimes to push through that, see beyond that or not pay so much attention to it. A milestone is an accomplishment, a point in your life where you have used everything you've learned to get you there and through it. You have already accomplished more than you realize or are getting credit/praise for. Make your own milestones sis!