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.

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.

Quotes to give you a push

Quotes to give you a push

Perhaps today you can use a little shove in the direction of motivation…

“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C. S. Lewis

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told.” -Alan Keightley

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” -Tony Robbins

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure every will.” -Suzy Kassem

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Zig Zigler

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” -Michaelangelo

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” -John C. Maxwell

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” -Karen Lamb

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” -Jack Penn

“Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try.” -Dennis DeYoung

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Why Are You Afraid?

Why Are You Afraid?

Whenever I end up in that conversation with someone who’s in the same place in life as I am but don’t appear to be going anywhere or doing anything, look out. I will not shut up. If I know you personally, you will be chastised. If we are only acquainted, you will be politely chastised. If there’s one thing that ruffles my feathers, it’s a young person who has no ambition.

But there’s something I realized from recent conversational occasions: the problem isn’t always lack of ambition. In fact, I’ve actually not encountered a situation where the problem was solely lack of ambition. There was always ambition. The problem lied with fear. And each fear that was uncovered was unique: fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of exposure, fear of inexperience, fear of change, fear of independence. I’ve heard of all of these. Each one was so extreme that it kept dear friends and fellow twenty-somethings from achieving, or even just going after, their dreams.

When I discovered this, I realized that my tactic of spit firing suggestions and pushing borderline overenthusiastic optimism wasn’t the best option. It wasn’t addressing the underlying problem. I switched over to a different question: “Why are you afraid?”

I now suggest to others to dig deep and figure out why they are afraid to move forward. If they identify the fear, they can identify what caused it, and if they identify what caused it, then they can identify how to deal with it. Fear will never be gone completely. In fact, we need it to make cautious decisions and keep us aware of danger. That’s the fear we can comfortably operate through life with without it hindering our ability to get to the next step. But it’s necessary to address the bad kind of fear, the kind that keeps us in one place, the kind that holds us back. That’s done in patient steps that are hard but not impossible. The first step is…

ask yourself: why are you afraid?

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Failure

It’s very likely that you’ve heard this phrase before. Thus, it probably just whisks by in our brains without much thought. But, honestly truly, would you have an answer if you did think about it, and I mean really think about it?

In this alternate reality, what would you go for? I know for myself, I would straight up go for every dream that’s on my heart, the ones I’ve been chipping away at to make happen. There’s much chipping happening because I want to be prepared so as to not fail. But in this world, I would do everything right now. Maybe, perhaps, even go for the things I’m afraid of.

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Is that it, then? We would go for the things we’re afraid to do? Makes sense. Why else do we hold back from doing things? Because of fear of failure. Now, yes, we all know that kind of reality of never failing isn’t possible, but perhaps we should live as if it were.

As JK Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” There is some good in being safe than sorry, in waiting, in preparing yourself, but there’s even greater good in taking risks, in trying and failing, in experimenting. Whenever someone tries to explain to me why they haven’t gone for something yet, I usually say, “Well, at least do something.” Depending on the action, wisdom just might be to wait on the right timing, but if that’s all you ever do, then nothing will happen. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have something going on in my life then get stuck in limbo. Yes, even if it’s not such a good thing, because I can always grow from it.

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So, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail, hmm? One thing I would do is ask my best friend if I could pray a prayer of salvation with her and lead her to the Lord. What would you do? Share about it in the comments.