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.

A Poem A Day #518

The Stories of People

There is joy in the glitter
While there is doubt in the plain.
They rejoice in the splendid
And fear the mundane.
They make the magnificent stories
Worthwhile to read,
While there are simpler stories about,
In much greater need
To be known amongst all,
For these are the stories
That tell the stories of people;
The drudgeries of life,
The works of the feeble.
Too often we seem
To notice the gold,
When there is so much more worth
In the stories that told
Of the people that suffered,
Or maybe did nothing at all.
These stories said something:
Some rise, some fall.
Life isn’t perfect,
That’s what these stories tell.
They remind us that there is heaven,
And there is hell.

By Catherine Joy

5 things that God has been working on with me

This has been a very trying time for me. So…so much has been happening, every one of them equally stressful and needing my mental and emotional attention, and I am tired. Eventually things will calm down. But I’m reminded of the verse Romans 5:3-5…

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

During all these trials, I’ve been experiencing some heady character building. It’s nowhere near over, but I’ve been developing a lot in the past few months. Here are five of those things:

  1. Building my assertiveness. I’ve come to discover that it is my nature to be passive and avoid confronting wrongful behavior that genuinely hurts me. Each time the moment is right, I always think, “Nah, I’m just being sensitive. I’m at fault for letting it bother me.” Though that is often a good way to go, it’s not always the right way. I did it so much that it turned me a little bitter, and now God is helping me build the courage to confront and the wisdom to know when it is right to confront.
  2. Learning to say no. My family is a yes family. It’s a family trait to say yes to every favor asked of us. Therefore each and every one of us has had to struggle with the burn out that it causes. Right now I have to consciously say no, because saying yes is still so habitual to me. I’ve learned that at some point I have to put my own interests into thought.
  3. Letting go of a label. I am naturally a sensitive person, and there’s something I’ve had to come to terms with: Being a sensitive person is not a bad thing! That’s been difficult, because whenever I was called sensitive it had a negative connotation to it. Most of the people around me don’t really view sensitivity in a good light, but that doesn’t have to define me. That plays in with my passive nature. Whenever I had a problem with something someone did, I always put the blame on myself and claimed I was just being sensitive. I’ve been learning that, first of all, it’s not a bad thing, and second of all, I have a right to stick up for myself when I am hurt.
  4. Believing that no job is too small. Because of certain not-so-good seeds planted in me, I’ve struggled with believing that I ever did enough, no matter where I was. That has caused me to take on more than I should and devalue myself because I never felt like I was doing enough, or at least doing an adequate job. That is a deep-seated falsehood that God has really been working on uprooting inside me.
  5. Believing I am worth it. Recently, in a deep conversation with a pastor, when they said something along the lines of “you’re worth it,” I burst into tears. I couldn’t seem to believe it. I realized that I never saw myself as worth “it,” whatever it was. God has been working on getting me to see that I am worth it, worth anything, worth most of all his unwavering love.

With God, anything can be uprooted, no matter how deep it goes. What sort of things has been getting uprooted in you?