I turn 29 next month, which seems a perfect perch for reflection. After all, 29 is just one year away from the first "big one" - and I expected I'd be living a certain life by the time I was 30.
That realization made me start thinking about my life and how nothing's turned out the way I thought it would.
As a kid I thought I'd be a jet-setting reporter covering breaking news stories across the globe for oodles of money, gaining great respect from everyone. I'd have a loft at the top of a high-rise overlooking a busy cityscape and I'd indulge in the nightlife, buying new clothing for every day of the week and sporting shiny diamonds. Everyone would know me and love me and I'd be the life of the party.
Upon the sobering second look of adulthood, I adjusted those expectations. At the wise old age of 21, I figured by 30 I'd be living in the city with my husband and no children, both of us working in high-paying jobs, I a reporter and he a chemical technologist. After all, that is what we went to school for. We'd be spending our money on trinkets and gadgets while enjoying the view of the ocean from our home, bought and paid for with that enormous reporter salary.
So now a look at reality. I got that reporter job, but it didn't pay quite what I thought. I make less money than my husband, who is the only chemical technologist I know who works as a bike mechanic on the Coast.
We're far from city life and even farther from the nightlife I dreamed of partaking in.
I'm not a globetrotter - in fact, the farthest place I've ever visited is Idaho (yes, the potato state). I have only one piece of jewellery that costs more than $10 and that's my wedding ring. I almost never buy new clothing, partially because I've got a three-year-old daughter for whom I constantly buy new clothes. Incidentally, she was never in the original plan.
So I guess I should be upset. But somewhere between 21 and 29, I learned not to measure my life by new clothes, jewellery, money and status.
Maybe it was during my bout with postpartum depression when I saw that my friends and family were all I could count on to get me through - no amount of money could ease my pain.
Maybe it was when I was in and out of the hospital for internal ruptures and surgeries, leaving me helpless as a child with no control over my future.
Or maybe it was upon the birth of my daughter who taught me how to live my life for someone other than myself, for which I am so thankful. She was a wonderful detour from the original plan.
Sometimes I look at the world and wonder why we do it to ourselves. Why we race and strive for status, prestige, money and the things it can buy. I know we feel worthy if other people tell us we are, and that we feel safe if we have enough money to budget for disaster and live a life full of the things the ads say we need. But what if money became nothing more than paper and metal, and worth was measured by something higher than culture-imposed ideals?
One day we'll all have to look back at our lives and ask ourselves if we lived them fully and in the best way we could. The older I get, the more I wonder how to really do that and where I should be putting my efforts.
Right now I'm just trying to be the best mommy I can be and I keep striving to live a good life that doesn't hurt other people. It's not easy and I often stumble, but it seems to be the right thing to do. This is definitely not where I thought I'd be by now, but I like it better.