When we are young and imagining what are life will be like in 5, 10, 15, 20 years, it is usually full of hope, love, success and perhaps a couple of kids. I don't know anyone who lists heartache, disappointment, failure or loneliness, even though there are bound to be hard times along their path. Perhaps you're on a road you didn't expect to be on and suddenly realize you are nowhere close to where you thought you'd be at this age or stage of life. So what now? Here's what to do next:
Give yourself a day to acknowledge that you're not a multi-millionaire or famous actress, you don't own your dream home, you're not married, you don't have kids or you didn't achieve whatever you set out to do right out of high school. Then get over it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and in the famous words of Queen Elsa, "Let it go." You're only holding yourself back by not moving on.
So you didn't climb Mount Everest, but you did go on a few hikes, and that's something. Don't down play your achievements — list them proudly. You may even see a trend and realize that you like something that you did not even realize. Perhaps you are really good at keeping a journal, and you should let that love of writing progress into an accomplishment you didn't expect.
The disappointments and heartaches you experience along your path are what shape you into the person you are now. It may not be what you wanted to happen, but don't let it define you. Use it as fuel to make yourself the best version of you. Use those lessons to make you stronger and share your knowledge with others. You are not your mistakes. Remember to move on when you are struggling.
If you find yourself lost or just coasting along without direction, stop and take a look at your life. Where do you want to be? Perhaps your goals have changed in the last 10 years. Perhaps you want something else for your life. It's okay. That is natural. That is what happens as you grow, mature, and get a taste for what real life is like. Think about what is important to you now and what you should be focusing on today.
Even though your original dreams may not have panned out, don't let that stop you from making new ones. These old dreams are the ones that kept you going when you weren't sure what direction to take, and gave you something to work towards. They gave you hope and purpose, but now it is time for a fresh out look. Even if you don't achieve every dream on your list in the next 10 years, it's okay. You're not a failure, you're human and life is always evolving.
Life can take some unexpected turns and we may end up someplace completely different from what we imagined was possible. The important thing is to ask yourself is if you're happy. If you are, then stop beating yourself up. If you're not, make a change. There is no reason you should not be happy. Just because you did not reach the same milestones as your high school classmates or siblings does not make you wrong. Life does not end on the date of your 20 year high school reunion — it continues to go on and I can guarantee changes (both good and bad) will come along the way.