THIS IS 26.

What a freaking week.

My 26th birthday came and went so quickly and as I sit here slightly hungover from the previous nights festivities, I'm left feeling so many emotions. First I'll say this, I am overjoyed with where and more importantly, who I am at 26. However, this week in particular it's dawned on me that I once had an expectation of where I'd be at this point in my life but that just isn't my reality.

I was having a conversation with someone and we got to talking about the second half of our 20s and how those expectations have changed for society in general. We no longer live in a world where your 20's are the years when you "have it together" and you know who you are and you've settled into yourself. It's basically round two of your teenage years only this time your acne has slightly cleared up and you no longer refer to steps in a relationship as bases. 

You see, by the age of 10 I'd already planned out what my adult life was going to look like. First I would graduate from college and become a successful business woman. Then from there I'd get this dream job where I made way more money than I knew what to do with. I'd of course meet this strapping young man who'd sweep me off my feet and we'd be in lurveeeeee. We'd get it on like rabbits and by the age of 26 I'd at least have one baby with another on the way. Did I mention my husband would have a very basic white boy name like Frank or Steve or Bill and was at least five years older than me because let's face it, men mature a hell of a lot slower than women. Anyway, by the time I was 30 and he was 35, we'd build our dream home for our ever growing family and would be rich as fuck and live happily ever after. 

Fast forward 16 years and here I am. Went to a great college, check. Got a degree in business, check, check. Making a decent salary, check, check, check. But that's where the dream and the reality start to look a little different. You see, I don't have a husband named Frank and in fact have never even dated a Frank, though there was a three month stint with a Bill. I've thankfully never been pregnant though I have owned a condo which was one of the most borderline traumatic experiences I've ever had. But my point is that this is not the life that I thought I'd have and there are pieces of that dream life that, if I'm honest with myself, am sad to be missing. 

Real talk, I am over the single life! Like come on, I want to Netflix and chill with my honey on the couch! I'm tired cuddling with my pillows that I never take off my bed and I want to take cute gushy pictures together and be someone's #wcw!!! I'm not asking for much Lord so I think it's about time you send him to me! 

But seriously though, the problem with my dream was that it solely revolved around the idea of being in a perfect relationship with a perfect man and my happiness being defined by loving someone else. While I do find myself down at times about not having someone to share certain experiences with, what I am happy about is that I have exceed my expectations of what life at 26 would look like by simply having goals and accomplishments that have nothing to do with anyone else.

Here's what wasn't in my dream, not just going to college but going to a VERY good University and being involved in organizations that allowed me to help communities and taught me how to present myself in poised manner. Or, at 20 years old living in a different country for 3 months and having to speak a different language. Or working for a pretty kick ass company where I got to not only rub shoulders with but act as mentors to higher level management. OR moving to this gigantic city that likes to chew people up and spit them but against all odds am off to a pretty amazing start. 

You see, 10 year old Sha, you may not have a ring on it, but you should be over the moon about all that you have done and the amazing life that you have lived thus far. Frank or Steve or Bill, will come knocking on the door of your pretty amazing NYC apartment and when he does he's going to say, "Wow, look at this smart, driven, passionate, AMAZING woman that's all mine. I'm a pretty lucky guy." Or at least he better say that :) 

Bring it on 26. 

-XX

SJG

LIFESTYLESha Janelle