When I was in college, I was a hostess at a restaurant in the outskirts of town. The place was reasonably priced for a surprisingly rich cuisine, and they allowed (well, encouraged) me to wear pretty dresses, so I stayed for the extra wages into my final semester of school. One night when it was slow up front, I had way too much time to think about the sour patch I was having in my relationship with Mr. Idea, the difficulties with my friends (primarily due to Mr. Idea), and the feeling that I was all-in-all so ready to leave my sleepy university village for the never-sleeping streets of Manhattan.
As I usually do when I’m bored or emotionally distracted, I started scribbling some notes and some ideas for articles or ramblings (which have now turned into this lovely blog). Many of these notes consist of lists and quotes that I find meaningful or inspiring, and because apparently I’m a 13-year-old in a 20-something’s body, I usually write the words “all pretty” or sign my name like I’m a celebrity (but I have deleted the hearts and smiley’s, for the record).
One of the lists I made that evening described everything I hoped to have by December 2010. And ironically, as I was cleaning my apartment, I stumbled upon the folded piece of paper –the eve of December 1.
On my wish list for this point in my life, I wanted (in specific order):
-A job paying enough to be secure in the publishing industry.
-For the job to be in New York City.
-To find a decent apartment that’s affordable and in a safe neighborhood in Manhattan.
-To meet and be dating the man I will marry.
-To remain healthy and fit and continue to become more beautiful.
-For my father to get better and for my parent’s marriage to be saved and rekindled.
-To mend my relationship with my father.
-To never under any circumstance give up on finding the love of my life: a man that will make feel incredibly happy and loved.
Well, 7 out of 8 sure isn’t too awful, right?
As I read through these words and mentally checked off items on this list, I thought of how much of my life is mandated by deadlines. My career in itself is defined by them and while those are not optional, the limitations and restrictions I place on myself are.
This mini-list of desires for this exact time in my life is a minimal example of the constraints I’ve always strapped myself to. I can’t think of a time (even now) when I haven’t had a countdown to something (birthday, trip, Christmas, weight-lost goal, etc.) on my dry-erase board. I’ve perfected my resume and added on freelancing gigs for the mere fact that I knew I needed to have a robust and diverse writing background by my age. I’ve given myself an allotted amount of time to “get over” someone and move on. I still have lists that I must meet before I’m 30 or before I have a baby or before I get married or before I get my first wrinkle. Now, not all of these are necessarily bad or limiting, but if I’m always living on a deadline, waiting for the next phase to get here before I can set a new due date – am I ever really just living? Sure, I’ve been able to meet some of these set-in-Lindsay-stone dates – but is that only because I needed to move on to the following item? Or at the very least, create a new time stamp? Does everything work that way?
The one thing I haven’t checked off my December 2010 deadline – find and be dating the man I’ll marry – isn’t something that quite belongs on a story lineup for tomorrow. I can’t check off “meet the love of my life” and move onto the next task at hand because it doesn’t ever end. When I meet this person, I’ll stay with them until the end of time (because we will hopefully beat divorce statistics).
So why, prior to this blog and to this journey, was I in such a huge rush to meet this man? The reason a limit is ever set, at least in publishing, is because the mag is going to press at the middle of the month or the article is time-sensitive, or the breaking story must-get-out now or it will lose its value and its newsworthiness.
But does love ever lose its importance? Will it ever not be worth screaming from the rooftops when you feel that thing that we’re all told we will feel with Mr. Right? Is it necessary to set a date before we even literally set a date for our “I Do” exchange?
Following my usual run, I sat on the rug in the middle of my miniature Manhattan apartment (that’s affordable), thinking about the job that allows me to live in the place I adore, and the family that has grown and healed in countless ways since I wrote that wish list, and the blog that’s only intensified my faith, not only in finding everlasting love with a man, but in myself too. And so, I made a decision:
I ripped the list into tiny little shreds.
And on a new sheet of paper, I wrote eight new wishes:
-Believe in my possibilities and my gifts.
-Experience life’s many wonders and opportunities.
-Grow into myself.
-Dream of more.
-Do good for others and for the universe.
-Give my thoughts, my heart, my time, and my patience.
-Question the limits and the traditions.
-Explore my world and my fears.
-Love myself without exceptions.
As for the deadline? Every single day, all day long, with or without a man, my family, my job, my city, my looks, my friends, my bank account or my youth. Because really, there is no deadline for happiness. And, even though it may scare me to fully admit it and let it go, there is no box to check or list to make or deadline to meet for finding love.