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This latter half of the year has been proving to be another time of realization for me. Or, in a sense, more of a reflection. Every now and then, I get hit like a brick with the damnedest two words we could ever speak: What if?

There’s a lot of this happening in my head, especially when I should be asleep. Sometimes, What If calls on the past and how decisions could have changed the present. Other times, What If wants to talk about the future and asks to make decisions that can make it all happen.

I’m twenty-four now (twenty-five in lunar years) and feel like a lot of what I wanted to pursue is behind me. I mean, by any means I’m not “old.” I have far better years ahead of me, I believe this. Yet, I feel like I’m behind and trying to catch to people four or five years younger than me. Or are they just moving faster than I am? I don’t know. Is this what people talk about when they mention a “Quarter Life Crisis?”

Perhaps, when people don’t really know me but know my story, they assume that I’ve been held back because I’ve met motherhood in my twenties and I’m balancing all of life’s phases at once — education, career, parenthood. Wrong. Being a parent doesn’t stop your mind and heart from dreaming. It really doesn’t. It makes them beat and run faster than ever before. You now have a straightforward reason why you need to become someone, something greater. So, no. That responsibility never holds you back, it only catapults you.

I’m not unhappy with my life. I’m well aware that even with how many struggles I’ve gone through, I’m privileged to have come away from them. Or, how lucky I am to have even struggled in those ways in the first place. At the same time, I question new opportunities and pull away from them even if they promise stability. That’s probably the wrong move — financially, academically, whatever. I feel like I won’t take the bull by the horns if that bull isn’t exactly what I want it to be. If that bull was a ticket for me to travel the world, that let me do all that I’ve ever dreamed with art or even writing, I’d grab it in a heartbeat. If that bull came with a good, stable, mundane but important job in my hometown — mehhhh, not so much.

I don’t think this is simply wanderlust or some philosophical term that explains how I’ve always wanted to be more than my environment. Frankly, I’ve never been the type to be held down. I don’t like being trapped. I don’t think anyone really is ever trapped in their situations. When we feel like we are, that’s when you’re supposed to — naturally — break free. This is where I’m at now. So, what if?

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