Why You’re Not a Screwed Up, You’re Just Living Your Own Life

For many of us, the idea of a traditional timeline for our lives is ingrained from a young age: we’ll go to college, meet a partner, work a job, buy a house, settle down, have some kids, and then retire from said job. Our lives seem prematurely planned out based on the now-dead, old school “American dream.” College is now 1,120% more expensive than it was 30 years ago, rendering it impossible for many people. Housing is up 1,050% since 1970 and the fertility rate has dropped significantly in the past decade. So what if life doesn’t go according to “plan”? What if you’re 29 and single and selling paintings at an art market full time? Does that mean you’re a huge failure whose life is less important than that of someone of the same age who is married with children and secure, well-paying job? No, it just means you’re walking your own path.

  1. It’s YOUR life, and you should do whatever makes YOU happy. If we all lived our lives in exactly the same way, it would make for a pretty boring planet. Life doesn’t come prepackaged in a mold that we’re supposed to fill. We make the mold.
  2. You’ve had your own unique challenges to face. You may have had certain setbacks that other people haven’t and you may have had advantages that other people haven’t had. Your life and the road you choose to take are unique to you, so you can’t compare your progress to anyone else’s.
  3. Your life doesn’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. So what if you parent’s idea of what you were SUPPOSED to be doing with your life doesn’t match up with what you’re actually doing? If you’re happy, that’s all that should matter.
  4. You’re being true to yourself. Maybe the traditional path isn’t for you; why lie and pretend it is? When you’re true to yourself about what you want out of life, the results are always best.
  5. You’re setting your own goals and benchmarks. Don’t compare where you are in your life to where others are in theirs at the same age. We didn’t all get Taylor Swift’s break or have the same ghostwriter as Drake; we can’t all be 25 sitting on 25 mil. Set your own goals and then meet them in your own time.
  6. Your successes are measured differently. So maybe you didn’t get through med school or it took you until your late 20s to make moer than $25k a year (or maybe you’re still not there yet). Success comes in many shapes and forms and can’t be measured in any one way. Celebrate your victories where they come.
  7. You should be celebrating what makes you different instead of feeling down about it. Perhaps college wasn’t for you – maybe you learned better from hands on experiences or jobs. Success comes when you embrace that and use it to your advantage instead of letting people make you feel bad about not walking a different path.
  8. You’re not focusing on what you DIDN’T do.  You’ve realized that it’s important to set your sights on the accomplishments you HAVE made instead of dwelling on all of things you could have accomplished but didn’t. Playing the “what if?” game is dangerous and it usually only leads to confusion and lessened confidence.
  9. You’re enjoying your life. Even if the path you chose is “unconventional” to society, your happiness is one of the only things you should be concerned with. If you’re content with your life (or at least feel like you’re on your way to being content), you’re doing something right.
  10. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. It’s true what they say about life coming full circle. Things all fit together like the pieces of a puzzle eventually and one day you’ll understand exactly why you chose the path that you’re on.
Tiffany is a New Orleans-based boudoir photographer (lushboudoirla.com) and freelance writer. Follow her on instagram: @onesmallflower or view her boudoir photographs: @lushboudoir