Ever since I can remember, I’ve been going against the grain. I’ve always wanted to do things differently, not because I’m a rebel (well, maybe just a lil’ bit), but because I felt where mainstream was heading wasn’t always for me.
I didn’t want to get married right after college, buy a home, and have some kids (and of course it’s okay if you do want this). I longed to move outside of my home state and my first experience of living somewhere outside of Michigan was when I packed up my belongings into my tiny car and drove across the states heading to the west coast. While I only lived in the beautiful state of California for 6 months, that short time was enough for me to realize I wanted to experience more and live in states other than my own (I wasn’t even considering living in other countries at that time!).
After college I moved to North Carolina, but it wasn’t so easy to head to the south because I was in a serious relationship with an incredible man and walking away from this was one of the hardest things I’ve done up to that point. I was terrified of the unknown and the uncertainty. What if the path I’ve chosen is wrong for me? What if I’ll be filled with regret? What if it won’t work out? So many what if’s, but the push for stepping out of my comfort zone towards adventure was exciting and enough for me to take the leap into the unknown even though I was absolutely terrified.
I remember thinking at that time that there must be something wrong with me. I wondered why I didn’t want what everyone else wanted. I blamed it on my “commit issues” or my parent’s divorce. At that time I didn’t really know there were other paths to take because I hadn’t been exposed to it yet. So I just assumed there was just the one path and if I didn’t want that or fit into that box, then the problem must be with me. I thought if I received professional help that would “fix” me and help me be satisfied with the life I had.
Looking back now I feel all sorts of compassion toward this younger version of myself. The younger Kelly who beat herself up for wanting something else and who believed the problem was her. Who didn’t know there were alternative paths to take in life. Who didn’t know she could carve out her own path and love her life. That she can live a life on her own terms…a unique life aligned with her values.
This is what I’d love you to know as well. It’s okay if you want something different and you have the desire to live in a way that may go against mainstream. Maybe you want to move to a foreign country, or sell your home and travel around in a RV homeschooling your children. Or perhaps you want to wait to get married and have kids or you long to leave the Monday through Friday 9 to 5. Maybe you want to slow down and create pockets of space in your schedule to prioritize your well-being rather than hustling and doing all the things. You can build a unique life too, whatever that means to you.
There is nothing special about me. If I can do it, you can too. I’m not going to promise you that it’s easy, because it’s not. Loads of fear comes up when we step away from mainstream and what is expected of you. It’s normal to worry about people think, but it’s important we don’t allow that worry and fear to keep us stuck in a life or situation that is not nourishing and supporting us.
Just because I’m living life on my terms doesn’t mean all my problems and worries went away and that I don’t struggle and doubt myself, because I still do. I have bad days and question just about everything. Life can still be messy, complicated and painful. And let me assure you, there is absolutely nothing perfect about my life (how boring would that be anyways?). But the important thing is, I’m living a life based on my values and on a path I intentionally carved out one wobbly step at a time with ample amounts of self-acceptance, grace and courage. And you can do the same thing.