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In your twenties, the focus tends to be on completing college, entering the workforce and hopefully finding someone who is your soul mate. In your thirties, you should be well on your way to achieving some level of success in both your personal and professional life. What I mean by that is, you get married, have children, maybe buy a house and have solidified your position in a company or have started your own company that’s well on its way to becoming profitable. When you reach your forties and you haven’t achieved all these things, you probably start to question certain aspects of your life. Naturally then, the big, overarching question becomes, “what is your life supposed to look like?”

I had this conversation with a good friend the other day and we both happen to be in our early forties. Both of us have achieved, what we believe to be, certain levels of success in specific areas of our lives. Then there are other parts of our lives in which we are struggling to achieve our goals that makes us, in a way, feel like a failure or at least feel less than our counter parts who are the same age as us and who have accomplished success in all areas of their lives.

The Twenties

Ah the twenties, a time to explore and experiment with every aspect of your life, at least that was what I was doing. I didn’t care much for school; I was more interested in living and enjoying life. Of course that got me into a bit of trouble, having failed my first year at university, but I quickly became self-sufficient by working and paying for my life without anyone’s help. I was able to develop my career at the time, which was makeup artistry. However, after a few years living in Montreal and finally graduating university, I went back to Toronto thinking that I was going to make a life for myself. That didn’t last long and decided New York was where I needed to be.

When I look back on things now, I did continue developing my career in the beauty industry at the same time as just trying to survive living in New York. And in my personal life, I dated a lot of guys, good and bad, and then I happened to fall head over heels with a Mr. Todd Cohen, that was fifteen years ago.

When I think about some of my friends that I’ve known for the past two decades, some were hyper-focused on their careers, some were focused on their careers, got married quickly, had children, bought a place and then all that fell apart. I think for the most part, none of us knew what our life was supposed to look like back then. We had some idea, but maybe not the full picture.

The Thirties

I have to say, I much preferred my thirties to my twenties. I was in a great relationship and enjoying every minute with Todd, we were in our second year of living in Los Angeles, I was still enjoying my time in the beauty industry, less focused on artistry and more focused on sales, marketing and education. We eventually got married, I started exploring the tech industry, because I no longer felt my future was working with specific beauty brands, we started trying to have a family and enjoying our time in LA.

Then something started to shift. Ironically it was the same time that the Great Recession hit. We were on year two of trying to get pregnant, I was working two jobs trying to make ends meet, Todd’s business was not growing and we started to question living in LA.

Compared to our other friends, we made a drastic move. With the help of Todd’s father and his connections in Brazil, and all the news surrounding the BRIC countries, in January 2010 we moved to Sao Paulo.

For the four years we were there, we didn’t think much about “what is your life supposed to look like,” because we just needed to build and enjoy this new life we were creating in Brazil. We were still trying to start a family and I was in a whole new industry, teaching, because that was the best way for me to generate money. However, in August 2013 when I turned 40 that big, overarching question hit me hard, “what is your life supposed to look like?” And honestly, I didn’t have an answer.

Right Now, in this Moment

It’s been over two years since we returned to the U.S. Looking back on our time in Brazil, we have such fond memories, met amazing people and Todd was able to sell his company to the largest e-commerce company in Brazil.

However, coming back to the U.S. made me obsess over that question, “what is your life supposed to look like?” We were still struggling to start a family, we both had to build our careers from scratch and we were still renting with no plan in place to buy a home.

Thinking about where my friends were in their lives, some were able to focus intently on their goals. Some had evolved very successfully in their careers; some got married, had their first child, bought a house and had a solid place in their career. There were some that had solidified their career, but their marriages failed and were now single parents. There were some that had built amazing businesses, but struggled to find a person to share their life with.

When my friend and I were discussing all this the other day, what popped into my head was the book The Power of Now. So I told my friend, “what your life is supposed to look like, is what it is right now.” I know what you’re thinking, that’s all wonderful and philosophical, but it doesn’t answer the question. For me it does.

We live in a world that is constantly throwing all these messages in our face. If we’re not being told to look a certain way, then it’s about what success is supposed to look like and by that it’s unless your company is being bought for $1B, you’re not successful. Or it’s our media telling us that unless you live in this ‘city’, own this ‘type of home’, this ‘type of car’, these ‘types of brand name clothes’, we are not up to society’s standards.

Over the weekend I came across an image from I Am That Girl’s Instagram account with this quote, “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Of course this is directed to young women, but I feel it has a deeper, more powerful meaning. With the constant pressure we all have, men and women, that is forced upon us from society and people around us, not just liking yourself, but liking your life as it is right now in this moment is also a rebellious act.

We will always have goals and dreams that we want to pursue, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of enjoying our lives in the present moment. We probably all want very similar things in life; having someone to share our life with, having a successful career, owning a home, having a family, but how and when each of us achieves those things, should not be determined, nor judged by outside sources and opinions. We are all on our own path and our own journey. What your life is supposed to look like is exactly what it looks like right now, in this moment.

Further reading:

One Path is Not Always the Way

Embracing Now

The Face of Infertility



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