Finding Your Place, Letting Go, Living Your Best Life

Maybe Life’s Really About Dancing With The Unknowns

girl holding sand in front of her face

Today is a day of reflection. I woke up in a half-stupor, still tired from losing track of time last night and falling into bed well past two, with the alarm set for just a mere four hours of sleep. I woke in a haze, scrambling around the kitchen, trying to toss ingredients into a smoothie, brushing my teeth with my baggy sweatshirt shrugged over my shoulders in the half-light of my bathroom.

This morning wasn’t like my usual mornings, waking up well before dawn to sit down and write. I was discombobulated, pulled in a hundred directions and already running late. I forgot, until I walked into the house of the kids I nanny, that it was even my birthday.

And then, as I was handed a tray of perfectly-frosted FunFetti cupcakes and three handmade cards, I had to laugh at how crazy and wonderful and imperfectly perfect life can be when we stop trying to have it all figured out and start dancing with the unknowns.

There was a time when the only thing I really cared about was being the absolute best. I would try so hard to get the best grades, never mess up, push myself until I nearly cracked under the pressure. I would have hated waking up in a frenzy, not being prepared, rushing out the door, looking like a hot mess—but here I am—finally comfortable with just being.

Being imperfect. Being messy. Being human. Being me.

Today is a day of reflection. Because (as I like to say because it sounds more sophisticated) I’m turning a quarter-century old. But as much as I joke about it, today sort of feels like a big deal.

Do you ever look back at your life and realize how quickly it’s flown by? Or how much you’ve grown? As a writer, I’m big into reflection, into deep thinking (read: overthinking), into pondering over things that have shaped the person I am. It’s crazy to think that I’ve lived twenty-five years, that I’ve grown, and fallen, and had my heart broken, and lost people I loved, and triumphed, and learned, and made so many damn mistakes.

It’s crazy to think that so many parts of my life have already happened, and yet there’s still so many more moments to come.

If I reflect on the one thing that has really defined me, that has really made me ‘grow up,’ if you will, I think it’s the fact that I’ve learned to be better at accepting what I can’t control: Skirting the fine line between planning, organizing and preparing, and letting life happen. Allowing what is out of my hands to play as it will, and enjoying the outcomes as they push me, challenge me, and build me.

Something I obsess a lot about is the meaning of life…and honestly, maybe we all do. We want to know why we’re here, what this all means, who we’re supposed to be. And as I’ve gone through some things and battled through my early twenties, I think the real meaning of life is about acceptance and love.

Life is about accepting the imperfect parts of yourself, of others, and learning to love fully despite that. It’s about accepting the uncontrollable, unplannable, and unknowns of this life and loving the journey, regardless.

Maybe it’s not as important how you look, what you have ‘going’ for you, how much you have accomplished, what you’ve checked off your to-do list, but how you’re able to keep going when the world doesn’t go your way.

Maybe it’s not about toeing a line, or always having this spotless life, or never messing up but about celebrating how every little moment shapes you—good or bad.

Maybe it’s not about going to bed on time, or making sure you’re always your best, but embracing the fact that sometimes you’re going to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off. And that’s okay. Because it doesn’t make you any less worthy, or capable, or strong.

Maybe it’s about learning to love who you are, who you’re surrounded by, and how far you’ve come, even if you’re not there yet (and while you’re still kicking butt to get there).

Maybe it’s about taking time to realize that you’ve come so far, even if you’re still not where you want to be.

And even if you woke up late, are running on empty, and forgot to take a breath—you take a bite of a FunFetti cupcake, you hug someone you love, you laugh at how silly it is to obsess over these temporary things, and you remember you are doing just fine.

Featured Image Credit: Jakob Owens


Marisa Donnelly, M.Ed., is a writer/editor, credentialed teacher, proud bonus mama, and CEO of Be A Light Collective, a coaching and content creation business and digital marketplace. She is the Director of Donnelly’s Daily Apple, a flexible learning/tutoring and educational resource platform, and the lead voice for Momish Moments and Step by Step Parents, verticals dedicated to sharing and advocating for non-traditional parenting journeys. Marisa currently resides in San Diego, California, with her fiancé, kiddo, and their two rambunctious Pitbulls. ❤️