When you tick all the boxes on an invisible check list, it feels as we are all living in a place like Pleasantville, that’s been manufactured by politicians and big businesses and made into a block buster hit by one of Hollywood’s studios.

Here’s the standard checklist that most people unwittingly subscribe to:

  • Obtain your GED/ Matric
  • Find a job if you can’t afford to study further
  • Establish yourself in a career before 25 years of age
  • Find someone to settle down with and be married or in a relationship by age 30
  • Have two children before the age of 35 would be ideal
  • Send the children to good schools so they become good citizens
  • Buy your house and pay your taxes

And so the list goes on and you eventually reach the ripe age of 65 or 70 and retire into oblivion. Alright, maybe not oblivion, but to tend to a garden of some sorts and wait upon the arrival of your grandchildren.

Tell me in all this rushing around and chasing invisible timelines, which checklist have you been following or more importantly whose checklist?

Are you a good person because you have done all of the above? In this desperation and urgency to reach your goals, what has fallen by the wayside along the way?
Is this why we feel we have failed when no one falls in love with us by the time we are 30 years old and because we have not found the love of our lives, we then settle for the like of our lives?

Could this be the reason why there’s so much divorce, career changes and unhappiness by the time we reach our mid-forties?

I feel that too often, as clichéd as it sounds, too few of us stop to smell the roses, to walk barefoot on the beach or simply just to breathe in a lung full of air and be grateful to be alive!

Have you taken the time to discover what makes you happy without comparing yourself to others?
We rush around chasing our tails and competing with each other over the way we look, what we earn, where we live and what car we drive and we lie to ourselves by saying tomorrow we will do what makes us happy or tomorrow we will mend friendships etc.

Suddenly though tomorrow becomes today and we look at ourselves in the mirror and don’t recognize the person staring back at us. We wonder where the time has gone because we no longer look how we feel. We feel 30 years of age but it’s a case of a reverse Benjamin Button, where inwardly we are young and outwardly we have to bare the signs of physical aging and so we slide into a resignation where we simply accept and wait for death.

I probably sound so morbid or pessimistic but I had a mother in law who passed away not so long ago and we all miss her terribly. I miss her chats, her gossip about inane things, her love for her grandchildren but mostly I miss her love for life. This is a woman who travelled overseas regularly whilst being unemployed. She lived and saw opportunities and chased them down and had fun once her children were grown. I recall when she became ill, I asked her what else did she want to do and she smiled and said: “My bucket list is complete!” I miss her terribly everyday especially when I do something new but I know she’s in a better, pain free place.

I have my mom who decided at the ripe age of 63, with mobility issues, to teach in England. Everyone around her was skeptical but she found a position and enjoyed teaching there for 3 years.

I have a dear friend of mine who is wheelchair bound yet travels and has these wild adventures that able bodied people only dream about and she, I’m happy to say has fallen in love again and is looking forward to spending her life with her person. I am happy for her and will probably cry like a baby at her wedding but it will be happy tears.

There are so many wonderful people in my life or that I have known and know that decided to make their own checklist and lived according to that. No law breaking stuff but simply enjoying the life they were given without looking at a check list made by someone else who has probably lived an extraordinary life sans checklist.

We need to be able to write our own story, our own adventures that shouldn’t require a checklist made by someone else. The only norm we need to adhere to is ours and enjoy our life whenever we are able to and throw that checklist, the invisible one, in the bin and make your own.

You are unique and beautiful enough to not let someone dictate how and when you should do what. You’re not a robot and your life should not be bound by rules that don’t feel right.

Break the mold and make your own rules as you go along.