I think too much.
I know this about myself, and knowing this, while making life easier to live, does not always serve to quiet the late-night thoughts and conversations I have with myself at 2AM to remind myself that I need to finish designing that thing or write that email or whatever.
I’ve also never been a planner.
I’ve never had a “life plan” or, really, any sort of idea about what I wanted to be when I grew up. For a brief time what plan I did have revolved around me becoming a world-famous archaeologist who would be interviewed on the History Channel, but then I read a disparaging essay about how you have to learn several different languages, and my guidance councilor told me I’d never make it since our school didn’t have a good languages program. So I decided to do theatre, the secret, backup desire I’d had since I was a kid. I wasn’t going to learn Egyptian, fine, but I could still be on Broadway. Seven years of voice lessons later, I realized that sometimes, you just aren’t good enough for what you wanted to do. I’m just not a good singer. I can carry a tune, but I’m not anything to write home about.
So I just kind of…wandered. By the time I figured out my Broadway dreams were never going to be anything but, I’d decided on a theatre major, and it was fun, and I was good at it, but I didn’t have a plan for after college. I figured it would work itself out.
And it kind of has. I have a job I like and I’m lucky that I get to do creative things (including crafts!) and I get to work for a theatre company with a mission I support and do plays I’m passionate about.
But I just keep thinking.
There are things I want in my life. There are things I expected to have by now, things I expected to achieve. I thought I would be a size 3 and on Broadway, and instead I am the exact opposite of those things.
My mom has been going through the process of cleaning out my room and occasionally I will stop by to grab things. Last week, I grabbed a bunch of old notebooks and papers to sort through, and I found an old junior high notebook in which I’d created a number of lists, one of which hilariously lists the absolute most important qualities that my future boyfriend must have, number one being “really nice hair”. How far I’ve come. The other one was a sort of junior-high bucket list of embarrassing things I wanted to happen and what age was the appropriate time for all of those to be achieved, with stern notes to “future Catie” about the consequences of not achieving these goals in the allotted time frame.
It’s weird, looking back 10 years and seeing how far I’ve come– and in some cases, how far I haven’t. I would love to travel back in time to that painfully awkward girl and tell her that “you know what? everything works out okay”, and have that same nerdy kid look me over and say “Wow, you need to grow up”.
Because I have… I just didn’t plan on it happening like this.
There are still things I want to achieve, things I want to experience and do and see, but I think I need to accept that the plan has changed– I’m not 14 anymore, and I don’t think # 34: Play Maria in the Sound of Music before you’re 30 is going to be happening any time soon– –but what I realized when I found that list is how many of those I still desperately want to come true, no matter how impractical.
In my mind, this is making sense, but I think it’s reading like “hey kids! give up on your dreams!” I don’t think that’s what I mean. I’m almost 100% sure I don’t believe in that.
I think what I believe in is that I’m never going to be an Olympic Gymnast ( #12) and also a ballerina in New York (#28) with a night job as a children’s book writer (#4). Maybe it would be just fine if I just wrote children’s books about kids who become gymnasts and ballerinas and archaeologists and are Broadway stars.
Maybe I don’t need a plan so much as I need to realize that it’s okay to want the same things as 14-year-old me, but 24-year-old me knows herself a little better, and as much as I hate my limitations and failings, working towards new goals and better dreams can happen easily– and a way more amazing plan might just come out of the process.