I’m not where I thought I would be…
Let’s spend some time talking about an issue that has seemed to come up a lot in conversations in The Thrive Tribe (and if you’re unfamiliar with the Thrive Tribe, it’s our Facebook community for the podcast where we continue the conversations and talk about subjects online. You can request to join at therapyforblackgirls.com/tribe. And make sure to answer the three questions it asks when you request to join. But there have been a lot of conversations about women not feeling like they are where they thought they would be in their life or feeling as though it’s too late to pursue dreams they may have once had. If this sounds like you or something you struggle with, there are three questions I’d like you to ask yourself:
- Whose story is this anyway?
If you have this story that you are desperately holding onto, I want you to ask yourself, is this really my story or is this a story I’ve convinced myself of because of society and others in my life? The most common thing that comes up when I hear people say they’re not where they thought they would be is the idea of being partnered or married, having a baby and an awesome career all by the age of 25. Do you know how many of us were an absolute mess at age 25? When I think back to my younger self, I wanted to have all of this by the age of 23 (I guess I was an overachiever with my fantasies) but when I look back on my early to mid and even late 20s, I was not at all in a place where any of those things would have been, healthy, satisfying or fulfilling to me. And it makes me wonder where did I even get the idea that that’s what my life should have looked like then. And I ask you that same question. Where did this story come from? Did you read a feature on the gorgeous 22-year-old who built an app that has made her a millionaire? Or maybe you ran across the most beautiful engagement pictures of a sister on Instagram. Or maybe even though you’re finishing up your Master’s degree and on your way to an amazing job, the only thing grandma asks about is when you’re gonna have some babies! There’s nothing wrong with wanting any of this. It’s totally ok if you do, but please be cautious about thinking you’re any less worthy, beautiful, or relevant bc these things have not happened for you yet. And please please please, sit with yourself to discover whether these are actually things you want.
- Have you grieved this loss?
As Dr. Robinson reminded us in Session 31, about Managing Grief, We don’t just have grief reactions to the loss of loved ones to death. We also experience grief reactions to the loss of a dream or story we once held. So if you have been holding onto this idea of who you would be at 25 and you’re now 30 and your life looks nothing like you thought it would, there’s probably something that you’re grieving. What is it? Have you processed and made peace with the idea that this dream you held onto for so long did not come to fruition? What would it look like for you to do this? It might look like allowing yourself to cry about and journal any disappointments. It might look like forgiving yourself for any perceived or actual missteps. It might look like finding a therapist to talk through the hurt and anger you feel about the fact that this dream you wanted has come true for many others, why not you. There’s likely a lot to talk through if you’ve had to grieve the loss of this story and meeting with a therapist to help you unpack it might be a great idea for you.
- Is there a part of the story you want to/can salvage?
So you thought you’d be at a certain place right now, but that hasn’t happened. If you’ve sat with yourself and figured out that this is actually your story and you’d like to pursue seeing it through, what happens next? Are there things that you’ve neglected that you can now put some energy toward? If meeting people is a goal, are you actually getting out of your house and engaging in activities that allow you to meet new people? If career advancement is a goal, have you identified a mentor? Figured out what new skills you should develop to advance? If whatever you’ve been dreaming about is important to you, then I want you to check in with yourself and see if there are things you’ve been doing or believing either consciously or subconsciously that have been getting in the way of you achieving it. And if so what part will you take responsibility for and how can you be more active in the process? Fulfilling dreams is not a passive process, so it will definitely take some work on your part!
We’d love to hear from others who maybe have struggled with a similar concern about how you’ve managed this. Share your thoughts with us on social media by using the hashtag #tbginsession or by mentioning our social media accounts. You can find us on twitter at @therapy4bgirls and you can find us on Instagram and facebook at @therapyforblackgirls
As always, if you’re looking for a therapist to work within your area, check out the therapist directory at therapyforblackgirls.com/directory