Reason #22: Purpose

I've gone through somewhat of a personal evolution since starting Early Mama: learning how to be a good mother, then striving to be a better wife, and now? Now I'm turning the lens inward, focusing on myself — my health, my happiness, my development. When really, isn't that backwards?

They say that your 20s are the years to "find yourself" — to make mistakes, take risks, travel, experience. To fully grow as an individual before you can be a part of a whole.

But I often wonder, would I be this grown up had I not had a reason to grow up?

Of course I can't answer that. I did feel a significant shift in the last year/year and a half — as if the swirling pieces of adolescence have finally settled. I feel more comfortable with myself, but also more determined to be better and do more. Was it becoming a mother that gave me so much purpose and clarity? Was it just the fact that I'm a little older now, rounding 27th base? Was it my newly developed frontal lobe?

Probably, yes.

I was reading this article "30 is Not the New 20," and it got me thinking about the whats ifs. What if I hadn't had a child in my early 20s? What would I be doing? Why would I be doing it?  Would I be as focused on purposefully being the best person I can be, without the context of parenting?

Again, I can't answer these questions.

But I'm thankful I don't have to.

The clinical psychologist cited in the article, Dr. May Jay (author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — and How to Make the Most of Them Nowpaints a picture of a generation of 20-somethings that are thinking rather than doing — a generation waiting to start their lives in their 30s. And while I've always been a do-er, aren't we called the Lost Generation? Don't so many of us see the evidence around us (read: on our Facebook News Feeds) of people taking a little longer to grow up? People still playing pretend — waiting for a big transformative moment to change into something they're not?

 But this is where I have to stick up for my generation.

I don't like when anyone — clinical psychologist or know-it-all blogger — dictates the parameters of what is and isn't possible. I understand what Dr. Meg Jay is saying — about how important it is to take control over your life's direction, rather than hope for the best — but I just can't believe that "80% of life's most defining moments take place by about age 35." I just can't believe that sticking to set timelines is the best answer. I think you can reinvent yourself at any age, and that you can find success and happiness from a multitude of paths — not just the most expected ones. And I like to think that just because you don't do things in the proper order, that doesn't mean they won't get accomplished.

That being said, I can imagine that feeling of being lost — especially when I run through the "what ifs" in my head. I can imagine the panic from reading articles that warn of a window that shuts at age 30. I can imagine feeling uneasy about the uncertainty ahead of me.

But I don't feel those things now, even though life is always uncertain and 30 is quickly approaching and motherhood isn't my only defining experience or goal.

Maybe it's because I'm lucky enough to have a very real, needed purpose on a daily basis. And maybe I'm a better grown up because of it.