The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

I once stumbled across a post that I saved and shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me:

“Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.”

I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I would wholeheartedly give credit to its origin. This was one of those quotes that struck so deep it was like a punch in the stomach. A punch that I very much needed. From high school, I did not do things like my smart, overachieving, well-to-do group of friends. I graduated a year early, took college classes during the summer, did not participate in National Honor Society or other honorable student organizations, went to community college instead of a four-year university directly after graduating, and so forth. Certain motivations like avoiding unbearable student tuition debts as much as possible made me choose this kind of path, as well as circumstances like breaking my back which led me to start online classes out of sheer boredom. There’s also the factor of spending most of my time doing internships practically every semester for the past four years. Needless to say, I have done things a little differently from my peers; from most people my age, I think.

From the moment I graduated high school I have struggled with doubt, regret, jealousy, comparison, shame. I just turned 22, and many other 22-year-olds I know are nearly finished with their Bachelor’s, whereas I am just now, not even yet, on my way towards that same goal. Yes, I have made progress with an Associate’s that gets me a little ahead of the four years, with doing internships that have proven valuable experience and connection. It’s still hard not to think about how I will likely be 25 or 26 when I do get that Bachelor’s, as apposed to old friends already having it before their 21st birthday.

Everyone in my life who is in the loop of my life has repeatedly told me, “Why do you think this? You are only such-and-such years old! You’re still young! You are doing fine! Chill out!” And I imagine those who are older than me are probably rolling their eyes in their mind as they say this. If I step out of my body and rationally observe myself, I have the exact same reaction. Why, indeed? I really do need to chill out.

It all boiled down to personal expectations. I live in this subconscious mindset of age-induced deadlines, of assumed projected standards from others, of living up to a subjective definition of success, according to society.

This idea is “being behind” as if life is some kind of race to compete in is totally, completely, stupidly false. I know this. Doesn’t mean I’ve successfully overcome it, but I’m working on that.

Why is it false?

There are different paths to the same goal.

Your path is different from your peers.

Age is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with achieving dreams.

Your age does not define you or your level of success.

“Success” is a vague term that can have a million definitions according to the individual.

Doing things for the sake of accomplishing certain societal standards is a major waste of energy and passion.

More often than not, the expectations you imagine are from outside pressures are actually your own placed upon yourself.

There is no designated deadline based on timeline, age, or order of goals that says “you failed.”

Accomplishment differs between careers. What makes someone a doctor will be a very different list of goals from what makes someone a filmmaker or an entrepreneur or a childcare provider.

Value of time and energy also differs between careers. It may be more worth it for a musician to spend their time networking while an aspiring vet will spend their time in school.

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10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

As you go about making your dream a reality, there will always be certain thoughts that cross your mind, bringing in doubt, fear, and discouragement. But they’re just thoughts, and we can’t trust our thoughts. Your head likes to mess with you, especially when it comes to the thing you love. These thoughts will likely stumble into your brain at some point, but there’s no need to dwell on them.

  1. “I’m too young.”

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” So what if you’re still a minor? You should be working on your dream right now. There are dozens of success stories of people 18 or younger achieving amazing things. Age is irrelevant when it comes to achieving dreams.

2. “I’m too old.”

My favorite author C.S. Lewis said, “You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Did you know he was in his 50s when he wrote the first Narnia novel? And he actually first had conceptual ideas for it back at the age of 16, but he did not begin writing it until much later. Considered his greatest literary achievement, amongst others, that’s an inspiring story. Once again, age is irrelevant to dreams.

3. “I’m running out of time.”

How, exactly? Because you’re growing up? Because you’ve created imaginary deadlines? Because your achievement date doesn’t match that of your peers? No, you’re not running out of time. And you better be pacing yourself.

4. “I took too long.”

I recently came across a post that I then shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me: “Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.” Remember that, indeed.

5. “I should have done it like the others.”

No, you are not them. They are not you. Your path is different. Something I always say: “There are many different paths to the same goal.” Just because you’re doing things differently from everyone else doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the same thing. Stop comparing yourself.

6. “I missed my chance.”

Doors open and doors close. They also open again. If you missed something, then something else will come along. It may change up your path a little, but like I said, there are many different paths to the same goal.

7. “I chose wrong.”

If it’s what you love to do, then you did not choose wrong. If you’re basing this off of the monetary success, well, DON’T! If your goal is to make money, well then, I hope you chose a path that made sense for that.

8. “I’m not skilled at this.”

If you’re passionate about it, then you will get good at it. Truly, ability should come naturally with passion, so perhaps you’re just underestimating your skills.

9. “I know nothing.”

Well of course, you’re still learning! That’s what studying is for! This is such a silly notion. If you’re passionate about it, the studying part will just be part of the fun.

10. “What the heck am I doing?”

Oh, we all think this, of everything. At least you’re doing something. So what if you have no idea? You’ll learn by trial and error. There’s no greater teacher. Let this thought slip away and laugh it off.

21 Things a 21-Year-Old wish she knew when she was 20

21 Things a 21-Year-Old wish she knew when she was 20

I’ve been 21 for a few months now. No, I don’t really feel old. Begal the legal drinking age is not all the big hoopla that everyone makes it out to be. Adulting is kind of boring, although I feel more an adult than I did at 18 (why is that considered the “adult” age, anyway?). Yet, despite this age, there are SO many things I still don’t know and wish I did know, especially before I became this age.

  1. Don’t stand on ceremony. By this I mean it is not a requirement to be overly formal and, dare I say, pretencious to get what we want. I’ve found that people are a little more willing to converse with someone who is not uptight.
  2. Feeling like an idiot from time to time is healthy. Perhaps I did know this subconciously, but I chose to remain ignorant of its wisdom.
  3. Don’t stay put. Oh dear fellow young people, don’t stay where you are! Please have at least one adventure before you turn 21. It will just become harder with each passing year.
  4. Start a retirement fund…now! Did you know if you start saving just $4,500 each year at age 20, you’ll have $1 million by age 65?
  5. Living alone is great! It has its perks.
  6. Living alone sucks. It has its downfalls.
  7. How to let go and move on. The elusive art of “let it go” didn’t seem to come to our attention until Elsa sung about it.
  8. How to meet people. It certainly is a skill, not limited to the social butterfly.
  9. Don’t be stingy. You’ll never be content.
  10. Volunteer! It looks good everywhere.
  11. There’s nothing special about alcohol. But there’s definitely something potentially dangerous about it, so show some respect.
  12. The basics of investment. And all things money!
  13. The years fly by. Please don’t let them pass you up.
  14. There’s no harm in taking a break. Burn-out is a rough path to tread.
  15. School rocks! Learning is fun 😀
  16. Start that business now. It will take a few years to get off the ground, so do it. Now!
  17. If you’re not good with kids…go work with kids. You don’t have to be a full-time daycare teacher. It’s just a very good thing to know, as children will eventually cross your path in one way or another.
  18. Establish your dating standards now. It saves a lot of time and awkward conversations. Not to mention possible heartbreak.
  19. Take care of yourself first. You can’t help someone else until you’re steady on your feet first.
  20. Learn a second language. It does wonders for your general learning capacity. Plus you have a step up in job applications.
  21. How to wait with grace. Waiting sucks, especially if its for your dreams to come true. There’s a graceful way to do it.

 

What things do you wish you knew before you were 21?