I have a fear. A fear that one day I’ll wake up 30 and haven’t done anything significant with my life. It is a small fear. It raises its ugly head once in a while and it’s rooted in my anxiety of constantly wasting time. If I don’t get my act together would this trend just continue till I’m old?
What is “old”, anyway?
Popular culture has many successful people in their twenties. Listing them would take time. A fond example is Mark Zuckerberg. He had more money than some people would ever make in their entire lives at the age of 23. Aside from the business world, you have several people in the entertainment industry who were successful before they became 20. That’s another long list. The Justin Biebers. The Chris Browns. The Daniel Radcliffes. People like these had more money to their names before some of us could even imagine a life outside of school.
But let’s come closer to home. Even before all these media sensations. There’s this sometimes unspoken expectation from culture that somehow your life is supposed to be set straight in your twenties. If you’re a guy. You should be living on your own, with no support from your parents. As a matter of fact, you should be supporting your parents. As a lady, somehow it is a taboo to not have found a husband (or at least a potential one) by 25. Although times are changing and women are becoming more independent (before the angry “feminists” come to attack me — that’s a post for another day, probably not anytime soon).
But unfortunately, this time period where I’m supposed to be setting my life straight is when I couldn’t be more confused and uncertain. Life would’ve been easier if we all came with an instruction manual from the womb. Congratulations on your new baby! Please refer to instruction manual on little pesky details like Destiny and Purpose. And don’t forget to study the section titled “DO NOT WASTE TIME HERE, DELIVERED PACKAGE HAS NO TALENT WHATSOEVER IN THIS CATEGORY”. Happy Parenting!
Everyone says have a plan. I did. That didn’t work out. I’m starting to believe nothing in this life ever really goes according to plan. Your plans are just to give yourself some sort of disciplined structure — a sort of guideline to help you walk towards a goal and not get sidetracked. I gave up on giving timelines to my life goals (if I still have any). I mean, I don’t plan on sitting around wasting my life but I’m not going to start making plans with unrealistic deadlines and start feeling depressed when they don’t work out. I opted for a more flexible approach. Unfortunately, I think I got too flexible and loose on my plans that I don’t really have anything concrete for now.
I’ll have to go back and restrategise on that one.
Another annoying part is how you go, Yes! I’ve finally found what I want to do with my life! And a couple of weeks or months later you go, Oh wait. That’s not it.
Or how everyone seems to feel you should focus on one thing when you have several interests. How do you expect me to choose, dammit!
But what is so special about the ages between 20–30? Why such a short timeline? What is so special about that decade? I honestly don’t know. I wish I did. (Maybe I should consult the elders). If we’re going to compare ourselves with celebrities and seemingly “Grass to Grace” stories then why don’t we consider every story? Because there are many people whose lives seemed to have “started” after this age bracket. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter series had the book published at 31, after 12 rejections. She’s 52 at this time of writing and is still active. Samuel L. Jackson didn’t make it big till his 40's, after recovering from a drug addiction amongst other things. Stan Lee, the face of Marvel Comics started getting success when Fantastic Four was published. He was 40. Morgan Freeman didn’t get a true breakthrough till he was 50 (explains how he’s been old all my life). The list goes on. Really. Just Google “People who weren’t successful till after 40" for a change.
Why then should I be too preoccupied with a silly deadline put on me by society and forget to focus on more important things?
One thing I’d like to say is that all these people had in common is their drive and their constant relentless attitude and refusal to give up.
I’m very sure that isn’t true. Look, life is too complex for such a categorisation. Work hard, keep looking for a higher purpose for everything you do, but don’t get sidelined by unrealistic expectations put on you or anyone else. You can’t keep trying to follow a script that isn’t yours. Similarities in two stories doesn’t make them one and the same.
It’s not compulsory to have a mansion by 30. (You don’t need one, really)
Stop getting into relationships because you have this drive to get married early.
You probably would never have your life completely figured out.
Does your life have any direction at the moment? And don’t you dare use your bank account to answer that question.
Time flies but we need to fix our perception of time.
Success is a must but we need to shift our paradigm on what true success is. After all, a lot of “successful” people who had everything we chase still found no satisfaction.
Maybe we should stop racing against time once in a while and learn to live in it.