People love lists and checkmarks and boxes. They’re useful tools for organizing and sorting– which is great, when it comes to a to-do list. It feels a lot less great, though, when they’re trying to get you to fit on their list.

Or maybe they’re not pressuring you, they just don’t understand. 

It’s hard to be the person who is living a different life. There are certain milestones that people understand– you graduate high school, then college. Maybe grad school, maybe the workforce. You get engaged, you get married. You buy the house, you have a kid. This is how you do life. Unless it’s not.

I’m not exactly outside the box, but I am single at 31 in the Bible Belt. I’m not even a career girl– last year, I left my full time job to become a massage therapist. I’m applying for grad school currently. My life doesn’t really fit any molds that people usually understand.

I’ve felt left behind. Alone. Uncelebrated. I’ve put on a happy face (a real one!), I’ve bought baby shower gifts, I’ve drank to finished theses. But I’ve felt the lack of understanding from family, from friends, from acquaintances. I am easily labeled a “free spirit”– which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am a medicated ball of nerves! It’s just that every time I try to stuff myself into a pigeon hole, I feel really uncomfortable. I don’t fit. I’m scrunched and my legs start cramping.

So I picked a different lifestyle. One not a lot get. But I truly believe it’s the life I’m meant to live. It’s my timeline, my trajectory, my scenic route. I get to pick it.

And I’ve found the best people in my life are the ones who will celebrate the small things with me. They’ll wonder at the creation that is strawberries. They’ll high five me on a particularly lucrative week as an independent contractor. And they’ll drink with me to a submitted grad school application– even at 31.


Author: Abbi Mast

I'm a massage therapist, a bit of a dreamer, and SSRI success story (ongoingly). I'm an outgoing introvert, Hufflepuff, cat mom, avid reader, aspiring hippy, and lover of deep conversations over almost any liquid (y'know, coffee, tea, wine, beer, kombucha, water...)

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