Very recently someone asked me this question: “Tai, do you think I’ll ever amount up to anything?” Being a light hearted person who values fun above all things, you can imagine my shock at being asked such a loaded question. What made this even more shocking was that one of the facility workers at my job, who is in his 80’s, asked me this.
Now, like many other college graduates, I have felt more than a little lost at times. Although I am working in my field, the existential fear of having peaked at 23, being unable to escape the comfort of a steady paycheck, or failing to find work outside my small town can be debilitating. I still struggle with this fear, however being asked that simple question by someone four times my age, albeit sad, was also strangely comforting. I say this because it put into perspective that you can feel that your life is going nowhere at almost any age.
An article published in the Huffington Post by Jamie Varon, titled “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life,” speaks a lot about the fear of not being or doing enough to further ourselves when it comes to all aspects of our lives. She states that “you are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.” She goes on to say that we forget the nature of life, which often times teaches us lessons and gives us what we need in roundabout ways, and we can’t control it. She also mentions that we must accept the fact that we are just where and when we are supposed to be.
The stigma that comes from not being successful financially, romantically, and career-wise stunts our growth, and can cause us to become even more stagnant than we already feel. Furthermore, the daily assault of self-help articles, inspirational quotes, and people telling you that “you should do yoga and mindful meditation,” or “just be positive” only exacerbates your own feelings of being stuck or falling behind; feelings which I know very well. After graduating I picked up four jobs, two in my field and two just to make some extra cash, and I still felt that I was doing absolutely nothing with my time. It wasn’t until I decided to stop perceiving myself as a failure that I was able to realize how much success I had actually accrued. Also, like Varon suggests, let go of the “shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best,” and stop comparing yourself to other people. Their successes are no more or no less than your own, and comparing them will only ever make you feel that yours are lesser.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “How can someone who just admitted that they feel utterly lost writing be a self-help article about not listening to self-help articles?” Yes, it is slightly hypocritical, but what can I say, I like you am only human; and sometimes reading an article that confirms some of my fears and lets me know it’s okay to have them is cathartic, and aids in sorting out some of the mess in my mind. The point of me writing this is to tell you it’s okay to feel that your life is going nowhere. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have made a plan and sworn to stick to it, only to have it fall apart the next hour, which is why we have the proverb “man plans and God laughs,” so I’ve decided to just laugh along.
I’ll leave you with this advice: look around and ask yourself if everyone if your life, besides you, is where you believe they should be; and then ask them. Chances are you’ll find that a lot of your friends, family members, coworkers, and even bosses will give you similar answers: that they are on their own journey, trying their best, and hoping they made the right decisions. Or, you may find they are exactly where they want to be, but didn’t get there without a struggle. No matter the answer you get, remember that you are allowed to be human, and that you are changing and evolving every second. In fact, I bet that you aren’t even the same person right now than you were when you first started reading this article. So have confidence in yourself, and believe in the path fate has assigned you, and if you’re unhappy with it, know that fate and life will always listen and readjust that path to meet your needs. All you have to do, my dear reader, is have the strength and conviction to simply ask.