I was listening to the Dave Ramsey Show the other day and he said something that really struck me:
“What if when you’re starting out, it just looks like you’re starting out.”
Woah, now that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve spent the first 7 years of adulthood trying to live life like I was in my thirties. While I have no regrets and I’m happy where I am, I wonder how different my life would be if when I was starting out, it just looked like I was starting out.
I think back to the Summer after I turned 18 when I met my husband Craig. On our second date, we had mutually agreed that this was it for us, we had found the one. We moved in together three months later. We rented a house together 6 months into our relationship. We got a dog. We scrambled enough money together to get an engagement ring. You would have thought something was chasing us for how quickly we were moving.
I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I felt such an urgency. I had finally gotten a boyfriend, I’ll admit I spent most of my high school years longing for young men who would never be able to reciprocate the feelings. Once I met Craig, we hit the ground running.
If I could sit down and have lunch with my 18 year old self, I would ask: “What if when you’re starting out, it just looks like you’re starting out.” What would happen if you slow down? Why are you rushing things? What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to beat? If you really think he’s the one, he’s not going anywhere. Slow down, you’re doing fine.
When we bought our first home, I was not enthusiastic about our choice. It certainly needed some cosmetic updates, I hated the small and narrow galley kitchen, I really felt like we settled because it was one of the only houses that had been for sale in our small town for years. The counters were an ugly lime green, the living room and dining room were a dark maroon. The shag orange carpet upstairs had to be much older than me.
I spent so much time hating my home. I would scour the internet for homes for sale, we attempted and failed so many home projects. We were forced to put our money into a new roof, a new furnace, and a new water heater instead of completing the cosmetic updates on my honey do list.
I wish I could sit down with my 21 year old self, I would ask: “What if when you’re starting out, it just looks like you’re starting out?” What if your starter home looks like a starter home? What if one day you’ll look back and laugh at the counter tops you painted (that are still holding strong by the way)? What if the home you bring your first born to isn’t a mansion or even that nice of a house? Slow down, you’re doing fine.
As a new nursing grad, the pressure I felt to not only be a good nurse, but the best nurse was crushing. I was constantly worried if others thought I was meeting their standards. Was I thorough enough with my assessments? Did I pick up enough shifts? Did I prove myself yet? Was I the best new grad they had ever hired?
I was about three years into my nursing career when I was certain I knew all there was to know and I had “earned” myself a leadership role at the hospital. I was determined to climb the nursing ladder and land a management position, after all I had three whole years of experience under my belt. When I didn’t get the job, I was crushed. “I guess I’m just destined to be a regular old staff nurse,” I told myself. I know! I’ll go back to school! I’ll out-educate myself so I’ll be the youngest, the best and the brightest!
I wish I could sit down with my 23 year old self, I would ask: “What if when you’re starting out, it just looks like you’re starting out?” What if you have to pay your dues? What if when you’re a new grad, you ask questions that a new grad would ask? What if you were just new at something for awhile? What if you didn’t work so hard to fast forward your career? What if to gain experience, you actually had to gain the experience? Slow down, you’re doing fine.
So many times in my life I’ve found myself racing to an imaginary finish line I’ve set for myself. I never embraced the new, the awkward, the growth, the setbacks, the value of earning something you’ve worked so hard for. I want to skip the novice, the beginner, the proficient and race right to the expert on the Dreyfus model for no reason other than to say I got there first.
With that, I’ll close this post with a few lyrics that I wish I would have taken to heart years ago.
Slow down you crazy child
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart tell me,
Why are you still so afraid?
Slow down you’re doing fine
You can’t be everything you want to be before your time
Too bad, but it’s the life you lead
You’re so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you’re wrong
You know you can’t always see when you’re right
Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two
And you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get halfway through