It wasn’t supposed to be like this!

One of you, and you know who you are, sent me this. Twenty Signs You’re Doing Better Than You Think You Are. Naturally I gobbled it up, because who doesn’t want to discover that she’s actually way more good than she previously thought. I mean, count me in.

That’s right, I welcome any reprieve, however brief, from the sometimes-thundering, sometimes-just-barely-under-the-surface feeling that things should be different from the way they are.

There’s a picture in my head of the way things are supposed to be. It’s a composite, I suppose, of everything I learned and absorbed and internalized from the time I was capable of learning and absorbing and internalizing. There’s the stuff my parents diligently taught me. There’s the stuff my parents inadvertently taught me when they really didn’t mean to, but they did anyway, because they themselves were products of their own imperfect upbringing. Plus there’s the stuff I learned from watching other people and obsessively comparing myself to them.

The sum total of it amounts to the picture in my head: The Way Things Should Be. It includes, variously, The Sort Of Job I’m Supposed To Have, How Much Money I’m Supposed To Make, and How Clean My Car Should Be.

Except, you know, like, occasionally things diverge from that picture, i.e., life.

And my rapid-fire response is to try to steer as hard as I can toward the way things should be, all the while thinking something along the lines of, “If I can just __[INSERT THING HERE]__, then everything will be okay.” Never mind mounting evidence to suggest that [INSERT THING HERE] really wouldn't be the magic cure-all solution to finally make everything okay, because everything is never entirely okay, because it’s in the nature of things to not be okay at least some of the time.

But maybe that’s okay.

That is, maybe it's okay not to be okay. That's a possibility I’ve been entertaining lately, especially since I encountered the aforementioned list of twenty ways that I am – and you are – doing way better than I/we thought. Here's what really made me stop and stare and think:

“It’s not failure if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would.”

Wait – what?

It’s not failure if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would.

The resounding truth of which makes me immediately think that if I just could have gotten hold of this information earlier, then everything would have been better.