Okay, so yes, this is a byline to grab your attention and now that I have it, maybe I don’t mean “RUINING” your life, but I certainly am concerned about the fake finish lines you create.
I’m currently working with two young ladies whom have clocks ticking to decide on collegiate options. I love that they are being conservative and conscientious about their time, money and focus. I love that they are taking a moment to ask the big questions. “Do I really want to do X, Y, or Z?” I know they can’t make a wrong decision, can always do U-Turns in life, and that waiting another semester to think is only a page out of their life’s story even though for them it might feel like 3 years. I also know they may not be able to hear that “it’s all okay.” It’s okay to not know what the next step is and that is always true at any age.
I’ve been thinking about my twenties, how in college, I chickened out on continuing my education in journalism because I didn’t have enough confidence to pursue the heavily competitive field. How at 22, I was sitting in a chemotherapy chair for hours while my girlfriends were starting their first real jobs. How at 26, I was again for my 3rd cancer diagnosis sitting in a chemotherapy chair while all my friends were planning weddings. As soon as the ink dried on my medical reports stating no cancer was showing up on the scans and treatment was safe to discontinue, I was off and running.
Borrowed time, I was on borrowed time. Must get married immediately. Decide to have kids, I mean, was it fair, I had already had cancer 3X? Would I be able to have kids, must decide immediately! Must buy a house, everyone I knew was buying houses. Must cross this finish line. Must make new finish line. Must cross new finish line. Can you feel the intensity I was creating for myself? Can you feel the desperation? How ‘in the moment’ do you think I was living?
Do you know what happened next? Chaos. I married, only to realize I wasn’t ready to be married yet. Amazing how a decade of cancer can stunt your maturity processes. Not to even get into the myriad of vulnerabilities that emerge when you aren’t reaching your arbitrary finish lines and comparing yourself against others’ arbitrary finish lines. I became a target for people with bad intentions. A string of bad decisions, bad people, and fake finish lines that led to a breaking point of there being no other option but to learn about the power of living. Living in the present moment. My first breakthrough was Eckhart Tolle’s, “A New Earth” coupled with a great coach. A coach who said, “There’s no finish line, there’s only life, and you are okay … right here, right now, exactly as you are.”
Now, before you let me off the hook … “Sweetie, you had cancer, it’s okay.” That’s right. But don’t let me off the hook before you let yourself off the hook first. Promise! Pinky Swear!! Did any of this sound familiar? Are you forcing finish lines? Are you forcing loved ones to jump in and chase a fake finish line with you? Are you pissed when they don’t lace up their tennis shoes?
As I was working on this article, a quote from Cheryl Richardson popped up on Instagram, “If you’re desperate to get somewhere it’s wise to question your motive.” My motive was fear. I was fearful that cancer had left me behind my peers. I was fearful that cancer would come back. When I learned to address fear with living in the moment. (still learning) The fake finish lines were lifted.
Life is not meant to be a series of accomplishments, it’s a series of moments to be lived. Are your fake finish lines distracting you from the full experience of your life’s cherished moments?