As I entered adolescence as a girl with straggly hair, big eyebrows and even bigger glasses, I would spend time flipping through magazines, glamorizing adulthood. Adults could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. The sneakers they bought were not dependent on the amount of money their parents had in the bank. Their hair was always shiney, because they had fancy, good-smelling stuff they glopped on. The people they considered friends were actually friends, and not just someone they had to make pleasantries with in order to have somewhere to sit while eating chicken nuggets and Dipsy Doodles. They had their own apartments, their own houses, husbands, wives and the freedom to do whatever made them happy. Fast forward thirteen years, put me in front of 12-year-old Heather and there is the possibility I have one of two reactions. I hug her and encourage her to continue to dream big (and maybe show her how to work some tweezers). Or … I tell her to get real. Nothing comes easy or turns out how you hoped, so let go of your control issues and your plans and stop wasting money on J-14s and Bop magazines, because pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Prince William on your wall aren’t going to help pay the bills.

Its funny how teenagers have a naivety that you never realize until you age. They know everything, and nobody better tell them differently. When do your plans and dreams slowly start to get replaced by Payment Due notices? When do you stop trying for what you want and settle for what you currently have, because its comfortable?

Anyone reading this who knows me well knows that I religiously preach not to stop until you’re happy and fulfilled. Don’t settle for a relationship where you are the one giving, giving, giving, while the other takes, takes, takes as they jump up and down on your delicate heart. You’ll find “the one”. Stay positive! That perfect, never-makes-you-cry, always-makes-you-laugh person is out there for everyone! Chin up! Don’t settle for a job that you’re miserable in, just because it’s comfortable and secure. Do what makes you happy! Who cares about money? Live the dream! If you fail, you’ll go down swinging!

Blech. I’m a bit of a hypocrite. Only a little bit, though, because, to be fair, I have my never-makes-me-cry, always-makes-me-happy person. But when bills and money come into play, its much easier to do what is comfortable. I’m starting to feel like I’m past the point in my life where its ok to take a risk. When I was fresh out of high school, I thought it was perfectly acceptable to jump from location to location, packing my bags the second I didn’t like something. Who cares? If I’m not happy here, I’ll go somewhere else. And I did, taking the collegiate scenic route from one end of New York to the other. And, because of my “don’t stop until you’re happy” attitude, it took me seven years to graduate college.

Now, here I am, twenty-five and still working at my “just for now” job because its comfortable and it pays well. I have an easy schedule and a nice boss. Its five minutes from home and two minutes to a caffeine fix in any direction. Who wants to work for a big-time magazine anyways? Those people are probably jerks with lots of high-pressure and low pay. Who wants to work for a morning news show? They write fluffy stories and have to get up before the sun and I like my sleep.

Over the last year, I have made a million excuses and its only very recently that I have realized that is what they are – excuses. I guess my next decision is whether or not to become ok with them. Don’t get me wrong. My life does not suck. I have a man who has more patience than God, which works out well considering how demanding and unpredictable I am. Although we don’t own a house, we have a cozy home which happens to be my most favorite place on the planet. I don’t have a hundred different “friends” anymore, because I don’t need to make sure I have someone to sit next to in class or lunch. (And, in my defense, 25-year-old Heather has sat through several lectures alone just fine. Also, it turns out there is nothing better than me, a good book and a huge cup of coffee.) I love the few, close girlfriends I have and am confident I can go to them for anything. My eyebrows get waxed twice a month and I trade my (stylish) glasses for contacts whenever I feel the urge. Also, an entire shelf in our bathroom is devoted to hair products.

I’d like to fulfill the rest of 12-year-old Heather’s dreams, but is there still time? Do I really want to start over once again? Am I having a quarter-life crisis? Perhaps. Thanks for sitting through this. Please don’t feel the need to leave a “Chin up! Do what makes you happy! Live the dream!” comment. Those types of people are so pretentious. Unless, of course, you’re Kate Middleton. 12-year-old Kate soooo wants to be her bff.

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