What if you find yourself 40 years old, single, living alone in a tiny apartment in the West Village?
What if you search high and low, put up with the jerks, the gems — and everything wild and beautiful in between — and somehow, the man of your dreams, is just that? A dream? What if he really is just a figment of your imagination? What if you don’t actually ever cross that finish line to the altar and you spend years waiting for your chance to sprint? What if you watch everyone around you pair up, pair apart and pair up again, while you idly wait for your turn to take a chance? To make a loving mistake you’ll one day cherish? What if you never, ever fall in love again? What if you were meant to only get a taste, not a glass? What if you become one of those women that for whatever reason, don’t end up with a soulmate, or maybe never had one to begin with? What if you aren’t meant for that one, huge, great, amazing big love after all?
You’d figure out how to love yourself even more.
What if you do happen to meet someone kind of amazing? But he doesn’t fit that description that MASH spelled out for you, or the background or the paycheck or the height that you’d hoped for?
What if you meet him and don’t instantly know in that all-telling, fortuitous gut of yours that you were meant to be? What if you don’t meet in a way that’s fun or encouraging to tell your grandchildren? What if it takes more time than you’d like for him to come along? What if it takes even longer for you to get over yourself enough to let yourself love him in return? What if he’s bald? Or divorced? What if he doesn’t have that body that really gets you going, but instead has a heart that lets you finally rest? What if he is perfect for you in every way and though you don’t doubt he’s the one, you find yourself anxious about settling down? What if you aren’t completely sure, even if you actually, kind of are?
You’d figure out how to fall in love with the man, not the idea.
What if that dream job, the one with the fancy corner office, the shiny gold name plate, the cushy salary and the pretty life that comes with it… isn’t an option?
What if everything you’ve always known about yourself and what you’re good at and what brings you happiness, one day, doesn’t anymore? What if those bylines stop meaning as much or they mean so much that the pressure all becomes too heavy to carry? Too difficult to run toward, so you stop? What if you never publish a book, never open a bakery, never have more than enough money, and yet, just enough? What if you don’t get the chance to lead something or someone or some place and spend your life being led by other people? What if all that time spent editing your resume and surviving on next-to-nothing with a side of Ramen doesn’t actually pay off in the end? What if you don’t hear those precious two words — You’re hired! — that sometimes feel more important than the infamous three words? What if you don’t find what you’re looking for, after all?
You’d figure out how to let go of the path you paved so you can be brave enough to lay out a new one.
What if you never fit back into those size two jeans that you did sophomore year of college?
What if you never experience what it’s like to prance the beach in a bikini, fully confident, fully mesmerized by how you great you look? What if your boobs are never big enough, your skin never clear enough, your teeth never white enough, your hair never straight enough, your stomach never flat enough? What if you don’t drop the baby weight right away — or all of it? What if you can never actually run that marathon or even qualify for it? What if you don’t ever get that smokin’ hot bod that you want (and sweat to earn)?
You’d figure out how to feel comfortable and yes, radiate in the beautiful parts that make you gorgeously imperfect.
What if your five year plan takes eight years to complete — or never happens at all?
What if you are set off course by a bump here and a stumble there, keeping you always within arm’s reach of what you want, but never close enough to actually touch? What if you find yourself continuously surprised and effortlessly amused by the decisions you make and ones that are made for you? What if you end up far from where you came from and yet, closer to your heart than you’ve ever been before? What if nothing goes according to the map you mapped out with such care? What if you find yourself so happy with the life you created, even if it’s not carved out just as you thought it would be, but somehow, it’s better?
What if your future is so unpredictable — as amazing things often are — that you can’t figure it out before you get there? Whatever it is, you know you’ll be able to take it as it comes, solve the rhymes and the puzzles as they happen and tangle themselves up into your pretty little pictures of idealism. Because the truth is — you don’t always get the guy. You don’t always have an incredible marriage. You don’t always get the storybook tale you want to tell. The awesome career comes with sacrifices you might not want to make. You’re always going to get a zit at a bad time. You will probably change your mind one hundred times about what you want and what feels right. You can pick lovers over babies, and babies over freedom. You can try until trying is doing, and do it until you have to try again. There are no guarantees and no way to plan it out. There are no right answers and no way to reassure yourself that it’ll all work out.
No way to actually figure it out with complete certainty.
But what ever life throws at you — or doesn’t — you can figure out how to make it work. How to be happy. And one day, it won’t feel like you’re figuring anything out — it’ll just feel like it’s happening how it was supposed to all along.