the here and now

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This weekend Mr. Lively and I found ourselves discussing a lot of “future, whens.”

In the future…

  • When should we buy a home? 
  • When should we start having kids?
  • When should we decide whether we’d like to relocate?
  • Etc, etc.

The plethora of major life questions we (okay, mostly me) addressed was overwhelming.

You see, we find ourselves in a point in our lives when many of our friends are having children, some have houses in the ‘burbs, some are single, some are kicking their careers into high gear, and some are pulling back.

The life choices we made in their early to mid-20’s are now setting us up for very different experiences in our late 20’s or early 30’s.

There are no expectations. Only choices.

And though it is wonderfully liberating, it can also lead to analysis paralysis.

For Mr. Lively and I….

  • We could try to buy a home as soon as next year. Or, we could wait 2-4 years, once we have our first child.
  • We could start trying to have kids this year. Or, we could wait 2-3 years, once I’m feel ready to adjust my career to accommodate a child.
  • We could try to move to the bay area. Or, we could settle down here in Chicago.

This future-dwelling felt important, imperative, even. Our peers are making these decisions right and left. So we I felt compelled to do the same.

But once we stepped back and looked at our own lives and situations instead of our peers’, clarity emerged.

When we fully allowed ourselves to be present in our “here and now,” instead of the “future, when,” answers surfaced. 

  • We just settled into this apartment and we’d like to live here for 2-3 more years before buying a condo or home.
  • We will revisit the children decision later this year and see how we feel. No pressure either way.
  •  Though we are open to change, we’d like to stay put and settle here in Chicago.

It all seemed obvious when we stopped looking for the answers outside ourselves. 

Who knew it could be that simple?


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  1. casscomerford

    Loved this Jess. I think it is so easy to get swept up in the current (the water kind) of our friends lives – taking the time to see if that’s actually what you want is critical and often missed. I hear later we’re all jumping off a bridge! 🙂

  2. JillGG

    So true and it doesn’t seem to ever stop! We have experienced the comparison trap recently too… and let me tell you, it seems like the older we get the more that is at stake. Suddenly it’s not if we should buy a house, it’s if we should be a BIGGER house, or a fancier car or a membership to this club or that club. But you are exactly right, the moment we stop looking at what OTHERS are doing the more clear it becomes what WE should be doing both as a couple and as a family. Life is not a race with a finish line, we have to learn to enjoy where we are and not worry so much about meeting certain “milestones” that society has deemed important.

    1. Jess Lively

      Thanks for this reminder, Jill. I love hearing your advice on stuff like this. It’s great to know that I will need to keep this in mind even after these first few questions are answered.

  3. Melissa

    Even when you “answer” one of those questions, more questions seem to arise 🙂 Once we had a baby on the way, the future questions of buying a house/moving were front and center. It was driving me crazy, but we’re going to wait on making a decision until we’re ready and in the meantime, we’ll get informed on our options so when the time is right, we’ll know what is best for us. Thanks for this post — great reminder!

    1. Jess Lively

      First, congrats on the baby, Melissa!

      And that is a great point that new questions will arise in the future. They won’t be over, but they should be asked by the here and now, not the future,when’s or friend’s choices. : )

  4. Lemon Drop Love

    Jess, I completely agree with what you said. It is so vital to look at your own personal situation and base your life decisions on what you want as an individual or if you are with a long-term partner what makes you both happy and not what others are doing. Things get lost when you compare and you end up making life decisions based on someone else’s happiness and not yours. It is crazy how easy it is to get caught up in that stuff.

    1. Jess Lively

      I know, I’m sure this is something we will need to revisit most of our lives.

  5. Kristin Myers

    What an awesome reminder for us all! Great post!

  6. Amy Lee Scott

    Jess, thank you so much for this post–it could not have come at a more perfect time. I’m at the point where these exact questions seem to be taking over my life as more and more of my friends move into that ever-vague land of “Being Grown Up.” You are completely right: it all becomes clearer when you step back and look at what you truly want–without all the confusing input from a million different sources. Turns out, we really do know what’s best for ourselves!

  7. Nicole

    Great post! I definitely spent the whole weekend doing the same thing with my husband and found myself coming up short with answers. This perspective was a great help.

  8. Ahh future dwelling…I am so bad at this! Total paralysis sometimes, but its very true the “hear and now” focus usually brings up the answers I was previously trying to force!

  9. you’ll figure it all out as you go and you’ll realize that there’s never a good time for anything. there’s also no right or wrong way to live. it’s pretty great that you’re in a position to make choices – so many aren’t or don’t have the skills/tools to make good choices. Life isn’t black and white but so many shades of gray. (in no way, shape or form am I referencing that book)

    1. Jess Lively

      So true! Thank you for the reminder.

  10. Emily

    I’ve been having these sort of thoughts recently – out of our team of four women, I will be the only one not married by next month (and one has a child on the way). I live on my own with my cat. This really bothered me, but then I started asking myself – is marriage what I want right now? Is a family what I want? And I realised that it really isn’t. I love having my own place (albeit rented), and I love having the freedom to do what I want. So I’m having to remind myself gently that I’m actually reasonably happy, and not to look for the problems in my life.

    1. Jess Lively

      So true! I’m happy to hear you found the internal direction you were looking for.

  11. chantelle

    I love hearing about couples with great communication. It’s so important to be on the same page, to voice your worries, and to have sage advice from someone who loves you. Good luck with everything Jess!

  12. Maureen

    haha Jess you make it look so easy!!!!

    1. Jess Lively

      Oh no… definitely not easy. But worth working on.

  13. As you get older you realize to let life flow. I don’t mean avoiding decisions but rather facing them when life’s time is right. You will know. It’s a gut feeling and judging by what I have read in your blog you have a pretty good gut.

  14. I love how you put the unanswered questions I or we have on mind into perspective and also that it’s applicable to all of us in any situation.

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