woman and man in mini van

photo: The Althaus Life Blog

In a world where the answer is always at your fingertips, and everyone has an opinion of you, it’s hard to figure out who you are sometimes. It’s even harder to find that inner voice that reminds you that you are strong, funny, and worthy with the outside noise of jealousy and disgust is always looming.

We are a very “Keeping up with Joneses” generation. When planning out my life, I had that mentality. I wanted my life to be better than I ever could have imagined and I have a very specific, and very vain list of how I was going to make it so. From marrying a 6’5 athlete who loved his mother to wanting to live in a neighborhood in the swankiest area of where we live, I had very low, materialistic expectations of how I wanted to live my life. Those were my ideas of success.

Then I dated 6’5 losers, the area I had dreamed of living in turned out to be nothing but full of holier than thou hypocrite judgers that would make life miserable. Even if we could afford to live in that area I’d take a hard pass, fast. The life I have isn’t what I pictured or what I thought I wanted but it turned out to be everything I wanted. I’ve fought hard for the simple life that in my earlier years I thought I wouldn’t have wanted. I married the quiet guy who makes me laugh on the daily, supports any crazy idea I may have and loves me and our kids fiercely.

We live in a tiny ranch house. We’ve looked to upgrade it in big ways but at the end of the day, our tiny ranch house is perfect for us. We live in a village that’s mostly families who have the same, full of contentment dream. One thing I’ve learned over the years and that’s become more blatantly obvious is it’s not the things that matter but the people and how the area you live in makes you feel. Where we live it’s less “Keeping up with Joneses,” and more keeping up with our kids and their needs and dreams.

It’s less, “We have to get Cam here and Roy there” and more filling our lives with activities we all love and more taking it easy to figure out what our kids like and focus on that. I love the simple life we’ve built. It’s still challenging thanks to the autism side of it and the three-nager we currently have but it’s a crazy fun balance that I wouldn’t change.

I hope my younger self is proud of the way our life took a turn. It’s not a life she would have ever pictured but it’s a good one. So marry the nerdy guy. The one that lets you unapologetically yourself. The one that seems to have his life together way more than you. The one that shows up at midnight at your darkest moment. The one who sleeps on the couch with you when you’re too sick to get to bed. The one that still makes you laugh, post-kids, and you wet your pants a little. The one who speaks three-nager and is the best hostage negotiator.

The life that you imagined doesn’t have to be the life you have. The life I have is a million times better than what I ever dreamed. I’m grateful that I said yes to the short, quiet guy who loves his own mama but loves the family he’s made more. We have everything we need. We work hard together as a team which is what I needed. There are days we don’t like each other. But we still show up. I think that’s the secret. You show up on your worst day so your partner can be their best. We are always making what feels like life and death decisions. We believe in Murphy’s law a lot. We cry until we laugh. Laugh until we cry. It can be the dumbest thing that we’re laughing about.

If you’re single. I hope you find that person. It’s not about materialistic things. It’s about the person who shows up for you when the world turns its back on you. They are the ones who lay on the floor with you when you aren’t sure how you’re going to take your next breath. They love you and your kids fiercely. They admit when things are hard or when they’re struggling. They support you in your dreams and goals no matter how crazy they may sound. I hope you marry the person that makes you feel all the things—the person that allows you to be unapologetically you.

Jeremy is that for me. I didn’t believe in soulmates and love at first sight. I believed you truly could make it work with anyone if you put the effort in. Then one random Tuesday, a quiet, sweet guy walked into a coffee shop and my heart was like, “Well he’s different in a way that I need in my life!” and here we are almost 8 years later. I’m blessed beyond measure because a guy with his life together took a chance on me the biggest hot mess. I’ll forever be grateful.

This post originally appeared on The Althaus Life Blog.