In my mind growing up, 25 was always the year I was FOR SURE going to be married. Twenty-five just felt like so old. My mom already had 3 kids by 25. Everyone in my family was engaged or married before 25. It just felt like there was no way it wouldn’t be a reality.

I thought for years by my twenty-fifth Christmas I would be included in the wives club…one of the ones to make a dish or host a holiday at her house. Finally through with the “so who are you dating” questions. FINALLY. 25. It was a real expectation that I’d be a for-real married adult with my life together at this point.

My Dad made a bet with my sister years ago and the prize is that if she’s not married by 25, she gets a certain amount of money from him. I always laughed because he didn’t make that bet with me. I KNEW I would be married at 25. No doubt in my mind.

I didn’t expect to be single this Christmas. To have just walked through a heartache…and to still be a little shocked to have just watched the first boy I ever loved ask someone else to be his wife. I didn’t expect it.

I didn’t expect to have part of my family not be home for Christmas this year. To be mailing gifts and tearing up knowing my brother won’t be home for Christmas Eve.

I didn’t expect to have to watch my Dad leave the dinner table several times to take phone calls of people wanting to know more details on our family’s current political situation. I certainly didn’t expect to be hurting so much over words and accusations thrown at us.

I didn’t expect to still be scared of the dessert table. To still hear people commenting on my portions. To miss out on my Grandmother’s banana pudding because of fear. To go on three long walks in one day because the holidays make me so anxious and I’m not sure how to articulate it.

I certainly didn’t expect to still be sleeping in my childhood bedroom, obsessing over why the heck boys only communicate via Snapchat these days. Or why a stupid boy didn’t want me. To spend half of my day scrolling the social feeds of the girls he DID want, wondering what made me so different. To miss out on conversations with my family because I’m huddled over my phone, lost in a world that I expected to be part of.

The weight of all of this hit me tonight while I was walking. It was dark and gloomy. The aesthetic that matched my mood perfectly. If there is a such thing as an emotional hangover…I had one. I was tired and anxious and just filled with hurt. I had been praying all day for peace and couldn’t find it.

I was wrestling with the realization that nothing looks like it is supposed to or what I expected years ago when I dreamed about my twenty-fifth Christmas, or even last week when life just looked a little different. Nothing looks like the Christmas I expected this to be.

I was really pounding the pavement. In the rain. At 9 PM. Letting anger take a really strong hold on me. It was dramatic. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Pissed off because once again, my story doesn’t meet the crazy expectations I’ve set for myself.

Of perfect healing and perfect photos ops. Perfect smiles and perfect family dinners with no one upset with me or telling me later “you’re really going to have to eat more”. Of days when I finally felt like things were perfect.

All of this feels so heavy. The imperfection of life. It feels overwhelming and exhausting. And it hurts so badly that for my own sanity I can’t help but to say……to hell with my own expectations.

To hell with the standards I’ve set for every ounce of life. It doesn’t look the way I planned and that is so painful I can’t even explain it. But, I’m tired of setting the expectations internally to be perfect and then feeling the need to apologize when I’m not. To hell with labeling myself a crazy girl when I do something wrong.

To hell with all of that.

Christmas doesn’t look the way I expected. Things are going to be harder than I’d like for them to be.

There’s a lot more sadness in my heart than I’d like to be carrying.

I’m feeling the weight of the differences between me and my family more than I’d like to be.

I’m a little less financially stable than I’d like to be. A little less emotionally stable than I’d like to be, honestly.

I’m way more single than I’d like to be. WAY MORE.

I’m struggling with food more than I’d like to be. Struggling with my body and my wardrobe and all the things that come along with that.

But to hell with all of the things that I’d like to be. Because they just aren’t reality. And after coming out of my angry/sad/jealous mood from the last 24 hours, I realize just how miserable I’m making myself by filling life with expectations.

So I’m putting my feet on the ground. Planted where I am for this Christmas. Literally and figuratively. No standards set for myself or my feelings.

This season doesn’t look like I expected. It’s hard and it’s painful. I’m mad and I’m sad. And that’s okay, but it’s also okay that this season looks just the way it does.

It just has to be. To hell with the expectation.

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