I've been going through my stashed art pieces, compiling the worthwhile ones and throwing out the endless gestures and sketches that aren't worth hoarding. I have apparently held onto every piece of paper I've touched since 2010, and desperately needed to weed out the excess. In doing this, I found an old high school project. I'd made myself a ten-year life plan:
I created this in 2008. I was 16 and taking Future Focus, which required you actually plan for a future. It would have been helpful, except for the crippling depression I was suffering, and the utter lack of a future I could see for myself. This entire ten year plan was a lie. I did not believe myself to be capable of achieving any of these dreams. Every single line felt insurmountable. Live life? Go to college? Get married? None of these things felt accessible. But it was required, so I completed it. I made the fishes out of playing cards, because it felt like a game. Fill in these basic slots and you'll execute one Acceptable Adult Life. When I found this the other day, I wound up sobbing on my bedroom floor. This life plan was not made as a real plan, yet I managed to accomplish many of the goals I'd laid out within it. (The little piece of teenager me was shook af, yo.) Tomorrow is my 26th birthday. I'm married to the most wonderful soul. I've lived in a stable home of my own creation with that incredible person for over four years. We've been talking about starting a family, and even trying, for quite some time. I like to think that I'm still enjoying my "ending childhood" as freely as possible. I'm set to graduate from community college with my Associate of Arts this June. I also accomplished a lot of things that weren't part of my plan. I successfully ended an abusive relationship. I severed ties with toxic friends who prevented me from seeing myself and my interests as worthy. I learned important lessons about balancing work and school and sleep and love and food and fun, and I learned hard lessons about what happens when you tip the balance too far in any one direction. I overcame the anxious cloud that had dictated my life for three years, and I conquered the depressive cloud that had controlled my life for far longer. I found my joy, my confidence, my peace. I found myself and in that, I found my acceptance. I just received word yesterday that I was accepted to my dream college for my preferred Bachelors program. Acceptance of myself as worthy of love led to my acceptance of love with Aaron. It is a wonderful, pure love that comes with acceptances of its own. I've also come to accept that I can have symptoms and not let my life be dictated by them. I have come to accept that even the worst parts of me are worthy. Acceptance of the validity of my chosen career path, acceptance of my skills and talents, acceptance of the person I have become and am becoming. All led to my acceptance at Marylhurst. I have done what 16-year-old me thought was insurmountable. I have done MORE than 16-year-old me thought was possible. It largely came down to acceptance... that everyone has their own timeline. That it was okay to do it in a less prescribed way. To take circular routes, when I needed to learn a lesson more than once. To skip goals and come back to them later, when I was ready. And above all, acceptance that I could accomplish things even when I did not feel ready. That I could accomplish at all. That I simply could. Tomorrow, I turn 26. I feel Future Me looking back on this moment with a raised eyebrow, challenging me to impress her. And you know what? I fucking accept.