A woman standing on a sidewalk with empty flower vases and flower petals by her feet

I’d like to say my life is pretty ordinary with just a sprinkle of chaos occasionally. Fine, maybe a little more than occasionally, but I digress. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve taken the roads less traveled on my journey into adulthood and anyone with traditional values would cringe at my choices.

I had my first child and got married at the age of 21. Yes, in that order. My second daughter arrived the day before my 24th birthday, and I bought my first house at 28. Life was good. 

I have always been aware that people dream differently. We are each driven by ambitions that we plant deep and water with hard work in hopes that they will grow into fruition. For some, it may be becoming a doctor. For others, it might be attaining fortune and fame.

For me, it was having a family of my own. Being a mom and wife was everything I had imagined it would be. Not to mention a steady career, a beautiful marriage, my dream home, travel and, did I mention, the perfect dog. What more could one ask for? 

I can’t recall the moment I began to feel something unfulfilled stirring inside of me, but I was ashamed to admit it. At 28 years old, I had experienced many of the milestones that some people spend their entire lives looking forward to. Soon, the looming feeling of “What else?” began to set in. With all these life accomplishments that I had reached before my 30s, I just couldn’t settle with the feeling that this was it for me.

With all these life accomplishments before I had reached my 30s, I just couldn’t settle with the feeling that this was it for me.

Being a mom and wife early in life came with its sacrifices. Those sacrifices never felt like I was giving up much because it was all for the thing I loved most, my family. Yet, seeing my husband at the peak of his career and excelling rapidly led me to think about the things I used to love to do but slowly lost touch with.

I have always had a passion for creating, especially in home design. When my husband and I were in the phase of renting property, it was a never-ending cycle. We would move in. I would renovate every single room, and when there were no projects left for me to tackle, I’d convince him we needed to move again.

For as long as I can remember, everyone encouraged me to pursue home decor as a career. As much as that would have been a dream come true, I never felt like it could realistically be a part of my life plan. That is, until my quarter-life crisis.

It hadn’t resonated with me that “not right now” didn’t translate to “never.” It could simply mean “later.” No matter how far “later” ended up being down the line, it could still be just as beautiful and worthy of celebrating. 

It hadn’t resonated with me that “not right now” didn’t translate to “never.” 

At 31, I’m pursuing a business degree. I launched my own design business. I’m unapologetically doing something that I have always been passionate about, and I didn’t have to choose between career and family. 

Dreaming doesn’t have limitations. It isn’t confined to a box. All you need is the courage to create a space where you can dream bigger. I must admit, I questioned if I would have the time or energy to really invest in any of this. I even questioned if I really wanted to be a business owner.

It’s almost like stepping into the ocean. You freeze with the first step in and want to run back to the warm sand. Yet, if you have the courage to keep going, the farther you walk, the warmer the water becomes. Once you’re waist-deep in the waves, you experience the joy of moving forward.

I didn’t realize how important this was to me and how much I truly needed this for myself and my identity. I needed to know that I existed as a person outside of being a mom and wife. Too often society makes women believe that our value is rooted in being nurturers, caregivers and homemakers. Although these are wonderful things to be, we are also capable of so much more.

This life is not always glamorous. Some days, it gets messy with no time for a shower in sight. For the woman who wants “more,” it is possible. If and when you make it past the shore, it’s so worth it. 

Have you ever pressed pause on one dream to pursue another? What dreams can you pick back up that you may have put on hold?

Image via Jason Barbagelott, Darling Issue No. 16

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