I'm sure I'm not the only person who as a young child or even as a teen, got an age stuck in their head as to when they'd "make it". Mine was 25.
Or maybe the age you picked was when you planned to be married by, or maybe your number was how many kids you planned to have or the number of countries you planned to travel or the amount of dollars you wanted in your bank account or the number of pounds you wanted to lose or something else that meant a lot to you at the time.
And for whatever reason, this particular circumstance you longed for never came to fruition in the way or by the time you had hoped (or at all), and what you're left with is a ghost of what could have been but never was, and no matter how well many other things turned out for you, they somehow never hit the spot or measure up to what you claimed for yourself oh so long ago and have yet to realize. And sadly, you just can't get that number out of your head or heart because it was the marker you set for all that would be.
Can you relate?
I don't know when or why I picked 25 but my number was 25. By then I was to be a best-selling author (of a book I had not even written) and a multi-millionaire (from doing god knows what) and back up dancer for Janet Jackson (I wrote a hand-written letter to her that I never sent). I would also be celebrating my birthday with Oprah since we share the same one and of course she'd love me. Oh, and I'd finally not be fat. Side note: At that time I was about 25-30 pounds less than I am now so yes, I was a delusional idiot when it came to how I saw myself and I've since corrected my vision.
But here's the thing. Well, a few things. I chose that number before I had Paige, and raising a child on my own was not on my list. At all. I planned to be child-free for life. I was also unaware that her arrival would inspire me to do the most important work of my life (transmuting my past pain into something beautiful that would inspire others to look within and do the same) but this was not on my list either.
And so by 25 I had failed at life, in my mind at least. I didn't even start sharing my writings publicly until my 30s. I mistakenly believed I was too fat and unattractive to be in videos and although I made the cut at a dance academy in Toronto at 23, my insecurities prevented me from going to the first practice and all subsequent ones (this still hurts my heart to this day). And I never got around to caring about making millions because all of my energy was being put towards healing myself and raising a child and going to college and then to university. Being on OSAP was the richest I had ever been.
The age I had picked did not take into account the reality of my life at that point, nor did it make allowances for a change in direction, and it certainly didn't honour and embrace my ultimate path.
I remember watching a George Stroumboulopoulos interview with Anthony Robbins many years ago where Tony talked about how debilitating one's life can become if we have at some point planned for something that never came. He gave an example of a woman he worked with who had wanted 3 children, and now at the age of 61 and two marriages later, she had failed to conceive. As Tony put it, "So no matter what happens in her life, that core expectation can't be met. Barring a medical miracle of changing her physiology, she has to change that blueprint. She has to change that set of beliefs, that set of rules, or she'll never be fulfilled." (View the video here)
I would love to change my blueprint and get that damn number out of my head because with every year that passes, I feel further and further away from the "success" I craved, which is completely insane because if anything I am closer than I've ever been to all that I've ever wanted (which are not the things I listed save for wanting to be in a music video) simply because of what I've accomplished both inwardly and outwardly through all these years.
Although I have done a lot in my life that I can be proud of, on some level inside of me these things don't count because they happened after my deadline and in no way resemble what I wanted to succeed in despite the fact that everything I have ever done and continue to do is principle-based and a reflection of what I truly value as well as what my heart was beating for at the time.
This is what drives me.
Living authentically is what I value. Staying true to myself regardless of what obstacle I'm facing is what I value. Freedom and privacy is what I value. Regular self-reflection and creative self-expression is what I value. And putting my time, energy, heart and soul into what I value is what I consider a life well-lived.
I have continually followed my bliss as they say, yet I continue to feel like a failure in the "real world" because a) I still haven't found a way to thrive financially doing my art ("do what you love and the money will follow" my ass) and b) the goals I made for myself when I was younger were externally-based and not things I would actually go after just for the sake of having them. They weren't based on the quality of my life or relationships, my level of peace and happiness, or my ability to see my own beauty, but these are the things that matter the most to me. Everything else is just a by-product of that. All of my goals mean very little if these things are not the foundation.
With my 39th birthday just a few sleeps away, I'm wondering how it's possible that I can know intellectually that I have already succeeded in the things that actually matter while simultaneously feeling so far behind in my ability to succeed "out there". My wealth is inside of me and has been overflowing for years and I have yet to figure out exactly how to transfer that into my bank account.
And even if I had a great money-making idea, I couldn't do it unless I was totally excited about it and it aligned with my values. That's how I get anything done in life. All of my work and ventures occurred not because of an end result, but because I couldn't help from creating what was bubbling up inside of me. This doesn't mean I didn't think of the future, but I was inspired in the present long enough to create something lovely. There was no stopping me with The Poet & The Butterfly - it was my whole heart and focus for 2 years - as was GODS & DIVAS (for about 5 years) and Too Good Triangles (for less than 2). The way I did one thing was the way I did all of them. Pure, unadulterated passion for whatever was before me. I loved each one as if they were the only one and I saw limitless potential, for a time, until I was called to direct my energy elsewhere.
I have no doubt that whatever I do next will be met and birthed with the zest I am known for, but while I patiently wait for my muse, I'd like to work on releasing my long-standing belief that I didn't "make it" in time. It would be wonderful to start my 39th year free of that burden and completely open and ready for my next great adventure.
Thank you for reading my heart.
P.S. Join the conversation here.