I remember the first time I felt like I might like to kiss someone.

It was after witnessing one of the most underrated Hollywood love stories between Liv Tyler and Tom Everett Scott at the end of That Thing you Do. I was sitting in this big grey chair in the living room and I remember staring transfixed at the TV screen thinking boy oh boy, does that ever look lovely.

T.E.S and Liv Tyler made me want to fall in love. It was in this same moment that I started to picture what would be the defining moments of my life to come. It turned out there were only three.

My first kiss.

My inevitable marriage to my high school boyfriend.

Our first child.

And that was it.  Three big moments that I had to look forward to. I smiled to myself as the movie credits started to roll, a giddiness bubbling up inside me that I had never felt before. I had big things to look forward to.

My first kiss happened. I remember well, and it was lovely, and my heart probably did stop for the one second that it lasted for. But I was physically able to stand up and walk afterward. My life did not change and I didn’t start seeing the world in unnecessarily bright colours. I simply kissed a boy and moved on.

I had a high school boyfriend. I remember this well too, and it was also lovely, and my heart probably stopped a few times during the course of that relationship. It was special, and yes, life changing. I came out of that relationship a very different person. But I did not marry him, nor did I want to, and that didn’t make the situation any less defining. I learned a lot and loved a lot despite not checking my ‘marry your high school boyfriend’ box.

I grew up. I stopped planning my wedding and kept kissing boys. I switched out my Michelle Branch CD for something better. I quit dyeing my hair and started drinking coffee. I made friends and lost my Metro pass and started wearing heels in public.

Did I have my first kiss? Yes–but I I did not marry my high school boyfriend, nor did I give birth to my first child. According to my 10-year-old self, my life has had little definition. My 3 criteria remain largely unchecked.

I could not have foreseen the moments that have defined my 26 years.

They’ve taken place in the confines of a coffee shop to beaches across the world to simple conversations cruising down the 401.

It was the moment I realized I actually enjoyed the taste of beer and was no longer drinking it in an attempt to get drunk in the cheapest way possible. It was the time I sat staring at the ocean before hopping on a plane home to Canada and felt this overwhelming sense of invincibility. It was the time my friend told me that everything happened for a reason, and it suddenly struck me that this was, in fact, true. Life had so many better things in store.

It was getting the part I wanted in that play. It was making that friend only one year ago and knowing now she’s changed me so much for the better, and perhaps life put us together for a reason, and perhaps this will continue to be the case for years to come. It is finding people and letting them in and letting your heart fill right up.

It was that time I literally fell off the city bus and sat on the sidewalk realizing I was never going to be cool and coordinated and it was SO much easier to simply embrace that. And laugh. And let that stranger help me up.

In my initial checkboxes of growing up, I am nowhere close. But my life has been filled with moments that matter. Whether it’s been growing in my career or finally figuring out the way to give my hair the volume I want it to have, I have evolved. I have changed. I have loved and lost and lived the shit out of life. It has been beautiful. And it has been more satisfying than those three checked boxes would have ever been. Everyone’s defining moments are wildly different yet equally lovely.

I like to think Liv Tyler would be proud.