I stare in the mirror wrinkle-free and rested. I daydream about a life far away with a loving husband, small children, a yellow dog wagging her tail and a picket fence roped around a small white house with black shutters. I imagine myself driving to work with the windows down, looking forward to what the day holds. I am 18.
I'm stressed about graduating high school and going off to college. I'm stressed about my current girlfriends and making new ones. I'm stressed about picking the right major.
I am 18 and I wonder when I will have it all.
I stare in the mirror with a few crows’ feet and dark circles under my eyes. I daydream about a life much closer than before. My current boyfriend may become that loving husband. Maybe we'll have children... Maybe we won't. The yellow dog is wagging her tail at me. I'm still far from buying that white house with a picket fence, but I am in the real world, working hard and making money. I am 28.
I'm worried about getting married. I'm second-guessing my career: Is this my forever job? Will I ever make enough money to buy that house? What if we do get married and have kids... Who will take care of them?
I am 28 and I wonder if I can ever have it all.
I stare in the mirror with a hollow face. I am exhausted. I have huge bags under my eyes and my wrinkles are playing a wicked game of connect-the-dots. I hardly recognize myself. As I stare in the mirror, there are three children fighting for my attention in the background. They are screaming and laughing and crying—and I want to do the same. I am married to a loving husband. I still have the yellow dog. I have the white house. I quit my career to take care of all of the above.
I am 34 and I wonder if having it all even exists.
By living in a social media world, we view the lives of others through a filter—probably two or three filters, to be honest. It's like peering into someone's window when the shades are half drawn.
Your friend with four kids, a hot husband and perfect hair doesn't have it all. The same goes for your CEO girlfriend with twin girls, a huge house, a nanny and a house cleaner. There is something deep within all of them that is missing. Something deep within all of us that is missing.
That's because, plain and simple... Having it all does not exist. Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely.
Think back to an 18-year-old version of yourself. I bet your definition of "having it all" was drastically different. I'm sure it changed throughout the years with different life experiences.
Having it all is a mirage of marital bliss, well-behaved children, a six-figure income and optimal free time to vacation, as you will. It's taken me some time, but I’ve finally come to realize the world my 18-year-old self-envisioned was unrealistic. Where I am at 34 is something my 18-year-old self couldn't possibly comprehend. She had to experience roadblocks, failures and successes, heartbreaks and triumphs.
She has to come to peace with all of it and is finally able to stare into the mirror without the filter.
We spend so much time looking at what we don’t have that we hardly take the time to recognize what’s right in front of us. But there is hope. There always is.
Take a moment to stare into the mirror and look hard for that young naive person you once were. When you find that person, I think you'll realize you are far happier than that person ever was or could have dreamed of being.
That is when we are finally content. That is when we understand...
We may not have it all, but we are 100 percent OK with that.
This post first appeared on Mother.ly