5 Things I Know Now That I'm 34, Part 3: LIVING
Sometimes I feel like I plan to a fault. I’m a to-do list loving, planner loving type of person who takes trips to Office Max for fun. If I had my way ( and if I had the energy) every aspect of my life would be planned to precision, from what I’ll have for dinner every night to who I’ll marry and when I’ll marry him. But yet, I still struggle to find the right systems for me to be my most productive, and in spite of systems I try to set in place, I still am very prone to clutter. That’s not to say that I haven’t made some headway over the years with getting organized; I definitely have. I’m just realizing that living “your best life” isn’t about having everything in a neat compartment or planning out every second of every day in a planner. Some of the best parts of life can’t and shouldn’t be planned.
At 34, I’ve learned that finally achieving the elusive quality of “togetherness” is not the point of life. Togetherness ( as in "she's got her ish together") is what I call the set of qualities that meld together to create what seems to be a perfect life. It's the ability to put together a look that slays everyday. It's impeccable time management skills. It's a bubbling personality. Togetherness is whatever it is that undergirds the total package effect that some women seem to effortlessly give off.
I’ve spent a lot of time watching women who I thought were the epitome of togetherness, some I know and some I only know through social or traditional media, and wishing I had whatever it was that they had. I thought it was the flawlessly done makeup that pulled them together. Or maybe it was their wardrobe. Maybe it was their spouse, or their car, or their house, or how far they’ve gotten in their careers or the fact that they own a successful business. I thought I could read myself into togetherness, making me susceptible to every book that promised to make me more organized, more productive, better looking, more likely to “have it all”. There’s a serious problem with this type of thinking.
For one thing, thinking like this is very future oriented. That in itself isn’t necessarily bad, but when thinking about the future keeps you from living in the present, you are forfeiting a large part of your life. I think one thing that I sensed in the women who I saw as having togetherness is that they always lived in the present moment and made the best out of it. The present creates the future. I now know that ruminating about the future or the past does nothing but create a lot of paralyzing anxiety, which ironically keeps me from doing the things to create the future that I want to live.
We all want to live our “best lives” like Oprah, but what does that really mean? I think that to live your best life, you must first prioritize your life. Then, you can make your life reflect those priorities with the way you spend your time. Relationships are probably the most valuable and important things any of us have. Therefore, living the best life for most people is probably spending as much time as possible and making as many memories as possible with the people that we love.
That’s the other thing I think I sensed in women that I thought had togetherness. They valued experiences over material things. If you gave one of them $10,000, they’d probably spend it going to beautiful, interesting places with their families and friends instead of on an upgrade to their wardrobes. Clothes can be outgrown, but the memories and bonding from sharing fun moments with loved ones never expires or fades away.
Live in the present and take moments as they come. Put relationships over everything. That's the definition of living. That's the best life you could possibly have.