I don't remember if I did. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America the instant I learned it existed. I didn't know it then (or maybe I did), but my life changed at that moment.
Maybe that was when my real life began. It lead me down a path. But it saved me. Middle school was so horrific. But I kept thinking if I just held on for a few years, I'd be at the C.I.A, learning all the things I'd always wanted to learn. If I were to speak to Middle School Jenn, I'd tell her to keep holding on, because a life you always wanted was going to happen. Or maybe I wouldn't. Timey-Wimey. I might rip a hole in the time vortex or something.
Everyone's Free to Wear Sunscreen came out in about Spring of 1999. I was 13 finishing 7th grade. I was very young and very impressionable. This "song" spoke to me. If you haven't seen this in awhile or never have, take the time to listen to it. It is the best advice in a 5 minute time span.
I learned to be okay with myself. I was still miserable, but encouraged. It does give you excellent advice. I stopped reading beauty magazines because they did make me feel ugly (I think it is the best advice I have received in my teendom. I have not read a beauty magazine in 15 years, and yes, I think I look fabulous).
I allowed myself to be weird. I took heart that even though life was miserable then, as I grew older and worked at it, life would be better and happier. What I got out of it and still do is live the best life you can. Be happy. Don't worry so much. You don't know what's going to happen in the future. Be strong and confident. I hope Matt and I are dancing the Funky Chicken at our 75th wedding anniversary. "Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The Race is long, and in the end it's only with yourself." So who am I to compare my life with someone else's?
My dreams were always dull and vague. I wanted to go to college and get a baking and pastry degree. I wanted to meet the man I'd marry in college. I wanted to get a job I liked 75% of the time and have kids eventually. I wanted to be happy and healthy. I planned on a simple life. Preferably with a college degree, husband, a kid or two and a dog. And a job. Perfectly mediocre. Not quite the "American Dream" because it doesn't involve massive success. But it's probably
That was basically it. I didn't want my own store. Decorating cakes was something I wasn't ever and still am not good at. I didn't want a TV show, or a book deal or fame. I didn't even want to be rich. Just happy. Many years, several jobs and Prozac later, I have it. The life I wanted. My quiet, dull life with my husband. I took the long way round, but here we are.
Where helping my cousin move is my idea of a "big, exciting weekend". But I like that life. The "good enough" life.
And what's wrong with that? I have family I love, a husband who is my best friend and partner in life, and a job. It's a "Good enough life" but it's actually a good life. It took a long time to get to this point of happiness. Not comparing my life to everyone Else's. Because to be honest I do not care about going out late. I do not care about traveling. It's one of those "Sure, eventually" things. But not now. I'd rather see family than go to London.
I don't have a need to go to Comic-Con to geek out with my fellow Whovians. Crowds make me nervous. Even if they are as socially awkward and introverted as I am. I'm not adventurous or spontaneous. I am a hobbit. "We hobbits are plain, quiet creatures. Adventures make one late for dinner."
I feel so settled into my life with my husband. We're talking about kids. Seriously talking about them. In the next three years. That's terrifying. Don't get me wrong. I want kids. Despite the terror and fear of the hundred thousand things that can go from from the Womb to death. I still want them. When I get to see my cousins' kids, or see photos of them growing up, I want that so badly. They are all such good kids.
I know having a kid will be more terrifying, heart-breaking, difficult, frustrating, trying, exhausting, disgusting, agonizing than I could ever imagine. But I also know that the love and joy it will bring me will be unimaginable.
It will be a dull, normal life. Will I have a mid-life crisis and lament my boring life? Maybe. But probably not. Will I go back to working those 4am shifts? I don't know. What I do know is the minute I know I'm pregnant my life will be about my family. All the time. Which I know will be frustrating and exhausting. Moms seem to get the short end of the stick sometimes. But I get the feeling it will be okay.
I feel like in this day and age, in this generation, it's not okay to want a quiet, settled life. No, our lives need to be full of road trips! Restaurants! Adventures! Late Nights! Selfies! A life full of life! Roller Coasters! Travel! All-Nighters! Foodies! Yoga! Freak Flag Flying! Okay, maybe not the last one.
I hate to be a traitor to my gender and feminism, but I want that family life. Not because society told me so. Or because as a WASP I am obligated to want kids and tennis and wine spritzers. I hate tennis. I want it because I want it. So does that not make me a traitor to feminism? Because I actually want it?
"Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much. Or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody elses"