As the news of another close friend getting married arrived in my inbox this week, I couldn’t help but wonder: How are all of these people’s lives THERE when mine is HERE?! Six years ago, “these people” — my best friends from college — and I were in the same exact place. In fact, I was ahead of the crew with a serious relationship of two years that showed no major signs of wilting. Emails like these — the “Guess what? We’re getting MARRIED!” emails — are like state-of-your-life grenades that get randomly detonated throughout one’s twenties, just to keep some of us feeling like we’re never 100% on track to becoming a “true” adult. Not yet at least.
Don’t get me wrong: I am so happy for my friends and so excited to be a part of every wedding that I can be (can’t you tell?! HA. N0, but, for real). I am sincerely excited and in awe of my friends’ happiness and I am amazed how grown up they all are (seriously – I’m just impressed!). But it gets me thinking of course…
What does it mean to be “full-bloom” in life, anyway? Who’s to say one person’s bloom is better than another’s? Why does everyone pay so much more attention to the bloom than the blooming process? Alright, alright. I know. And I do the same.
One second I’ll be reading my email, getting revved up for the next two years of being an undergraduate science student again, and the next thing I know, I am being jolted into someone else’s life-time-frame and feeling like I must have done something completely wrong or gone way left when everyone went right. I get this sudden overwhelming spark that tells me I’ve veered off-course and while some people are thrilled and excited to see it, some are worried about me. For the record, I’m not worried about me! It’s like I’m a puppy jumping around in a field, trying to play in the great unknown, and then I run myself across an invisible fence and get sparked, which would be society trying to tell me No, no silly puppy. Just go back in the house where it’s safe. Sometimes I feel like my deck has been shuffled one extra time, and maybe my cards are turning up just a little more jumbled than the rest. Am I the outlier? I can live with that. (Annnnd then I realize I am in the majority, afterall. Weird how the prevalence of certain announcements can play tricks on the hard numbers, which are actually working in my favor.)
Then I’ll come across something like this YouTube video that my friend Allison (ex-intern at Viva Travel Guides) created of our trip to the Cotopaxi Province of Ecuador (you can watch it again at the link above, or read about this trip through my previous post, Pain in the Cotopaxi. And for all who may have wondered why my back hurt so much during that six-hour horseback trek, well, turns out I compressed a thoracic disc. Why am I not surprised?!) After watching this video and getting a quick rush of nostalgia (I’m such a sucker for nostalgia), I go… OH yeah, THAT’S where I’ve been… And do you see me complaining? NOPE. (Just to be extra clear, this post is me NOT complaining. Hehe.)
At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to make myself feel better (which, I kind of am doing – oops) about not being one of those “real” adults with jobs and fiances before thirty (as we are supposed to do, apparently), I think about horseback riding up a volcano in Ecuador and how awesome it was (uhh, minus the back pain). A salary would be fantastic, of course, but that will come later (panic panic panic). Maybe I’ve had some speed bumps on the ride to my thirties, but when those speed bumps come in the form of zip-lining through cloud forests in both Ecuador AND Costa Rica, and dipping my toes in the water of many seas… it aint so bad to take a detour.
Ok ok, here it is: The truth. I will admit with my little tail between my legs that I want all that — the love, the engagement, the I DO, the commitment to one person, the family, the salary, the blah blah blah that we’re all supposed to want… EVENTUALLY. I’d take it right now if it was right. But, while I want it (I do. I really do.) I’m glad I didn’t get it at the cost of all this. Please tell me you understand what I mean.
When I watch this video from my trip to Cotopaxi, I can’t help but smile. I am genuinely so, so happy I had the chance to live out all these adventures I’ve had in my early- to mid-twenties. I feel so lucky. The past six years, I got to swig life down in giant, uncertain gulps. I may have suffered a bit of indigestion here or there, but man has it been (mostly) delicious so far. Sometimes I can’t believe all the incredible places I got to travel, all the kisses that were kissed (oh boy have there been some good kisses), all the unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experiences I was able to accumulate and share. I know that when I get there, to that place where it feels many of my friends have already gotten and to that place I still believe in with all my heart, all of these experiences will become an even bigger gift; not only will they have made me who I am, but they are also the experiences that – back then – I didn’t know that, now, I wouldn’t be able to live without.
On Sunday, I go to Puerto Rico for a week. It will be the last travel adventure for who knows how long? My new priority is school, but don’t you worry! I will tell you ALL about Puerto Rico upon my return.
Maybe, as it turns out, I’m just a late-bloomer in life. I mean, I’m 27, not currently in a serious relationship, I don’t have a graduate degree (yet!), I’m attending seven weddings this summer and none of them are mine (ha!), and I’m just not putting all the pretty little pieces together the way the world seems to want me to do it.
But peonies are one of my favorite spring flowers. And, just like me, they are late-bloomers. Does that make them any less wonderful than the orchids or daffodils that come out first? I don’t think so. They’re all beautiful once they’re in-bloom; each flower just has to bloom on its own time. Only then do they smell the sweetest.