I may be middle-aged, but I remember the feeling all too well…

I was recently at my best friend’s house when her daughter, who recently turned 26, was having a bit of a crisis.

“What’s up?” I asked her as she huffed and puffed at her cell phone.

“Ugh, Aunt Evelyn,” she replied, “everyone just seems to be moving on with their lives. So many of my friends have bought houses or are in serious relationships… One of them is even pregnant for the second time. And I’m just here, still not sure about what job I want to do, still wondering if I’ll ever be able to afford to buy a one-bedroom hole to live in…”

That comment sent me back in time to my 20s, when I was the only girl in my group of friends not to have settled down with a husband or wife, stable job and a house loan. To make things worse, back in my time (late 80s and early 90s), the pressure to meet the expectations was even higher, particularly if, like me, you were a woman.

But I never folded. I never accepted that my fate would look like this.

How? It’s easier than you think.

Flip Your Thoughts: Yes, some people are happy getting married at 23. Some people want to have a full-time, stable job with a guaranteed income. And that’s totally fine. But, if you don’t want that for yourself, don’t punish yourself for not living other people’s definition of happiness. Instead, wish your friends well, stop comparing, and remember to focus on what you want.

Be Grateful: Having a child is the best thing that ever happened to me, but by not having a child in my 20s, I got to travel more, party longer, and experience things which can’t be done with children around. It’s the same with your job or a relationship: be grateful for the experiences you can say yes to, because you don’t have the same level of commitment as others (read Life – the Waiting Game on how to stop waiting and start living here and now).

Be Realistic: The people who settle down, have children and get a stable job when they’re young have one type of lifestyle. The people who don’t settle down, don’t have children, don’t get a stable job when they’re young have a different one. You can’t go travelling for months on end, have a stable job and start a family all at the same time.

Be Honest: At some point, you will have to sit down and think: Was the choice I made at 21 still the right one for me today? We change all the time, as do our priorities, cravings and needs. What worked for us when we were younger may not work for us now. So, while you may not have wanted a full-time job working in an office at 21, it may turn out to be the right option for you at 29. Why limit yourself, really?

I don’t want to say Auntie Evelyn to the rescue, but: Auntie Evelyn to the rescue.

What would you add to Evelyn’s list?

Let us know in the comments section below!