We've had one tenuous goal since we got married: to be debt-free by the time my husband turned 30. That gave us a little under four years to pay off over $40k of student loans.
Now with a year and a half left, we're less than a quarter of the way done. Granted, we did get married and move across the country (starting completely over) in that time, so it's not as heartbreaking as it could be. But still, this is not how we thought it would be.
We're not alone
I just had a conversation with one of my best friends about how things aren't going how either of us planned. Turns out, life looks a lot different at 26 than it did at 20.
Our paths and life plans are so different from one another, but we share the feeling of how time is starting to slip through our fingertips. Sure, you can push some things back a year, but two years? Three years? Five?
And I know that we're not the only two Millennials who are feeling that way. So many of us feel like we're wasting time or like the "real world" is coming on a bit stronger than we would have hoped.
I thought I'd have it all figured out by now. I imagined I'd be working a job I love at a progressive and youthful company. I thought that I'd be confident and LA-cool, laughing with my stereotypical girlfriends at brunch. Or maybe hopping on a plane for an actual vacation with my husband.
Instead, I feel boxed in, overwhelmed and seriously frustrated about how long it's going to take to get things on track.
When plans fall through
The shoddy plans I made when was in high school and college have all fallen through. There was a moment, when I was 18, that I was sure I was going to become a fashion designer and live in New York City. When that lost its appeal (after about a month), I lost the unequivocal feeling of "this is what I want to be when I grow up." And I've been wandering ever since.
So what do you do when your plans fall through on a grand scale? It's like rebuilding from the ashes. It certainly feels that dramatic.
It's not easy to just brush it off by reminding me to live in the moment and to cherish the place you are at in your life. I think that approach underplays all the emotion and stress that is swirling around us during these chaotic times.
How can we love where we're at & still make progress?
I don't want to delay the (hopefully) good things in my life by living statically in the very present. So I think that my mantra should focus on that forward movement:
Love the efforts you are making in your journey.
Don't just love the present, embrace the forward momentum that you have built for yourself. Even if it's too minuscule for anyone to see but you.
Learn to look at things objectively. Instead of saying things like "I only got one blog post published this week," remind yourself that you published one post this week. Sticking to the facts can help remove some of the emotional sting that our self-talk can cause.
I know that loving and embracing our efforts won't solve the emotional, mental, financial and physical whirlwind that is young adulthood, but I think that maybe it's a start.
So maybe we'll be debt-free by the time I turn 30. Since I'm younger than my husband, that gives us 3 1/2 years. Think we can do it?