Burn The Map and Take the Machete


I’m turning 35 next month, which seems like a good age to declare that Normal is never going to happen for me. Regardless of my future, my chances at a traditional life are officially in the rearview mirror. If I marry again, it won’t be like marrying a longtime friend in my early 20s – we’ll already have decades of separate personal histories. If I find a career I love, it’ll be like Chandler Bing switching to marketing in Season 10 of Friends, not the informed plan of someone who knew what she wanted to do at 22. If I become a mother, via adoption or biology, I’ll be an Old Mom with an established general cluelessness about child-rearing. If none of those things ever happen, that’ll be a whole other challenge.

It’s time to stop looking at and judging myself by a framework that’s no use to me. Time to shake off the shame, burn the map, and take the machete.

I think I was always destined for a Plan B life, because it’s authentic by nature, and so am I. Much as I sometimes wish otherwise, fakery is not in my bag of tricks. I can’t convincingly pretend to be other or better than what I am. I’m hopeless at playing it cool. I can’t maintain an illusion of having it all together. I tried for years, back on the Plan A track, and it wore me down to nothing. But in Plan B, there’s no hiding the fact that I’m perpetually flying by the seat of my pants. Everyone is, in fact, but I’m too far gone to cover it up. I’m permanently out of the game.

However, I tend to exchange it for a new game – acting like Plan B is one big exciting adventure. Sure, it can be, but more often it’s a heavy load of uncertainty, false hopes, and dead ends. It means hacking through the jungle with no confirmation that you’re headed anywhere good. I’ve felt so weary of it lately, too weary to be the Eowyn I want to be. I need to give myself grace and freedom in the weariness too.

I need to surround myself with other machete-wielders. Blazing a trail by yourself is too large and lonely a task. I need regular reassurance that I’m not some pitiable anomaly, but am valuable right where I am. I want to be inspired by lots of different examples of a purposeful, fulfilling life. I don’t think you can ever have enough. None of us are meant to do this alone, and I’ve been trying for too long.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister’s iced tea.

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4 Responses to Burn The Map and Take the Machete

  1. anna says:

    Agreed. Makes so much sense.

  2. Katrina says:

    I appreciate your honesty. You are not alone in this.

  3. Awesome post! Thank you for writing this and sharing it. My Plan B may look different from yours, but I can relate.

  4. I love this post so, so much. I, too, had to burn the map because my life just doesn’t fit that “mold” that it’s “supposed” to. And you know what? The older I get, the gladder I am for that.

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