I recently read a blog post about milestones more important than kids or marriage. The author wrote about embracing milestones that have nothing to do with marriage or having children because not every woman (or man, for that matter) has done those things or wants to do them.

This idea struck a chord with me. While certainly getting married and having Sophie were milestones in my life, I don’t think of them in the same way as I do other achievements. Perhaps it’s because I always thought getting married and having a child would be a given in my life. But the other milestones are more personal achievements, or bigger accomplishments that I wasn’t expecting. Does that make sense?

I’m not suggesting marriage and children are not milestone-worthy. On the contrary; they certainly are. But I really like the idea of looking at milestones and achievements on a intimate level that may not necessarily involve another person.

When I look at the big milestones of my life, so many of them have to do with overcoming fear. While I’ve always thought of myself as strong and self-confident, I spent a lot of my life avoiding risk for fear of the unknown and lack of control. There are many reasons for this (another blog post, another day), but I always gravitated toward the safe route in life.

So here are some of my personal milestone moments, many of which helped me become more confident and less fearful.

Moving to Indiana — As many of you know, I spent nearly all my life in San Diego with my family. Yet I never really felt like San Diego was where I belonged. So why didn’t I ever go somewhere else? I never even dreamed of moving away because everything and everyone I knew was there. San Diego was home, and the thought of leaving scared the hell out of me. It’s still hard to believe we packed up our entire lives and moved to Terre Haute almost two years ago. But it’s been the best decision of my life and I’m so glad we did.

Leaving my Safe and Secure Job — In March 2012, I left my full-time job to make a living as a writer and start my own business. I said good bye to colleagues I loved, a guaranteed monthly salary and stability because I knew it was time to move on. I could have easily stayed in that lucrative, secure job. Yet if I hadn’t made that leap, I wouldn’t be where I am today — in charge of my life on my terms.

Becoming a Runner — I never thought I had the ability to run or be physically active. But in October 2016, I faced my fear and started running. It wasn’t much at first, and just making it one mile was a huge win. Last weekend I hit a  personal record by running six miles. I did slow down and walked in parts, but it’s the first time in my life I’ve accomplished anything that physically challenging. I never imagined I could run a half marathon or even a 5K, but now those goals are within my reach.

Getting My First “Real” Job at KPBS — My first job was working at a Dairy Queen in high school. But after my freshman year of college, I got a job working at KPBS, the local public broadcasting station. I was incredibly proud to land a part-time student assistant job working for a media company, and was lucky enough to be hired full time after I graduated college. I learned so much about television, radio, marketing, public relations, writing, and working with people in those years, and made some wonderful friendships along the way. I consider landing that job at 18-years-old is one of the defining moments in my life.

Moving into the College Dorms — I went to college at San Diego State University, a mere eight miles from my home. I was excited to go to college, but afraid to go anywhere beyond where my family lived (again, fear). But I knew I wanted to move out of my parent’s house and into the residence halls. The years I spent living on campus were some of the best of my entire life, and it helped me be a more independent person.

Going on the Washington D.C. Trip in 8th Grade — When I was in middle school, I signed up to attend a week-long trip to Washington D.C. and Virginia with 40 of my fellow 8th grade classmates and four teacher chaperones. Being a HUGE history buff, I was so excited to attend this trip. But at the same time, I was absolutely terrified and wasn’t sure I could actually do it. I was scared to leave my family and equally panicked to fly. I packed my suitcase and went to the airport, but I honestly didn’t think I’d set foot on that plane. In fact, I almost turned back until one of the teachers started talking to me as we boarded. I was so distracted that I forgot to turn around. I’m so glad I didn’t turn back because that week was life-changing for me.

Not long ago, I wrote the blog post 19 Goals from the Last 19 Years where I reflected on the goals I wrote for myself when I was 21-years-old. I look at that list today and see that fear is still playing a part in my life, and holding me back from achieving some of those goals. I hope to start conquering some of those projects and seeing what new milestones can be made as I move forward in the next chapters of my life.

What are the milestones that define your life? Do you think of those defining moments as more personal, or do they include marriage and children?

This was a long post … thanks for sticking with me! 🙂

10 Responses

  1. I also went to DC in 8th grade during spring break. It was my first time flying & first time being that far away from my parents (living in Orlando).

    I suffer from not just fear, but also I don’t want to come across as being “irresponsible”. Because of that, I passed over a month long trip to Europe in 2002 through college & a archeology dig in Mexico in 2003. My reasons were I eas engaged & an adult & adults don’t do that. The archeology dig was months long & I was recently married. My husband says to me that I should have gone to both, to travel &experience the world.

    I’m learning to take more chances, but it’s scary to break out of the mold I have been living in for the past 41 years.

    Enjoyed this post. It was a raw & honest post.

    1. Thank you, Catherine! I totally get what you’re saying about not wanting to seem irresponsible. I often feel that way a lot. That’s great your husband is so encouraging of you though; and I can totally see you loving an archeological dig!

  2. Love this perspective Leah. I also think about marriage and kids differently, perhaps because it wasn’t my milestone alone. And I too would say moving for college was probably one of my most significant milestones. I moved across the country and even though I was scared to death when my parents said goodbye and all I wanted to do was go home with them, somehow I stuck it out. I sometimes wish I still had that level of risk. I’m much more hesitant to leave my comfort zone as I’ve gotten older.

    1. Yes, I love that idea that it’s not yours alone. I think that’s a big part of it. That is for sure a huge milestone! It’s interesting how risk changes so much as we grow. Thanks for reading!

  3. PS I should add that I moved to Arizona when I was 26 (and I was a mama’s girl– cried the ENTIRE four-hour plane ride). But it was that risk that made it easier to take future risks. And I wouldn’t change those decisions for the world! I will celebrate my 20-year reunion in Arizona in September. Whattttt????

    1. Wow, 20 years in Arizona?! I think you’re right about making that initial big move and risk. It does make it easier to to conquer other things.

  4. Loved this post! (makes me more hopeful). I left a 6 figure job/career to feel more at ease with my life… so far, one year later, I love that I can truly work from anywhere, but I have to admit I miss the $$, security, benefits and lots of the people. I’m hanging on for one more year, but to tell you the truth, I can’t picture (nor do I want to) going back to working from an office 8a-5p (plus). I do need to figure out how to increase my income!

    1. I’m glad you found this encouraging, thank you! It’s definitely a hustle to make sure you get the income you need. That part is not easy. But I can’t imagine going back to work for a company, in an office, all day again. I do find ways to interact with people though (clients, friends, volunteering). So I’m not alone all day (although as an introvert, that’s not half bad either).

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