People in rectangles. A newlywed couple, baby wraps, first days at school, defending a Ph.D. thesis, cooking a meal for the first time, vehicle’s birthday, a cat snuggled up, aging parents in the glow of their anniversary cake, celebrating oneself, a day off, an after-therapy selfie, the view from a window. I recall my newsfeed flooded with photographs, snippets of lives.

I smile. There is space for us all, as we are, the lives we go through, our paths. Paths, I think. I recall my teenage self, I believed that there was a path, one on which we'd all find ourselves. School, college, job, a partner, a family. If I could write to my teenage self, I would write to let her know that there are more paths than she could possibly imagine then.

There are wonderful people we will meet who will teach us those gap years can be profoundly life-altering. Perhaps, the dream college may not work out, but we will find and nurture friendships that allow us to laugh at life together. The job we were so determined to pursue, we will soon realize our heart is set elsewhere. The career that seemed perfect, may turn out to be not so great after all. We will learn to take our of our bodies, and that the reflection in the mirror is only a part of who we are. And we will attempt to find our path, we probably will fail, too.

Our definition of a family will broaden to hold so much more space, and within that space, love will thrive. A pet, friends from all over the world, the roommate we've come to share everything with, a partner(s), the plants. Relationships will allow us to unlearn and learn what makes us feel safe and valued. We will work on the relationship we share with ourselves, too, and by far, we might find it to challenge us the most.

We will try therapy and it might be uncomfortable, to begin with, but we might discover parts we have been trying to make peace with. We will allow ourselves to navigate the world, and we will forge our own path. Or so, I would write to my teenage self. She'd chuckle in disbelief, too.

Every conversation I have, I am reminded: life can be lived like this, too. And in realizing that there is no map, I find a sense of liberation. As I allow myself to be, it is a gentle allowance to fail, learn and acknowledge the privilege I hold throughout this journey.