Turns out, living your best life isn’t that easy.
Life is tricky business, I tell you.
Knowing what you want out of life is hard enough, but pair that with deadlines, obstacles and setbacks and you get a big ball of stress. There’s so much that can go wrong and so much to lose. What do you do if your life isn’t going according to plan? And how do you cope with your life goals taking longer than expected?
We all spend our limited time on this planet struggling to catch this feeling of happiness or contentment and hanging on to it as best as we can. Sometimes that’s harder than riding those mechanical bulls you see in movies.
I think we all have ideas in our heads about what our lives are supposed to look like and when we’re supposed to hit certain milestones. Get married by 27 at the latest, kids by 30, have the dream job the summer you graduate college, own your first house by 35. And then there are your career goals: become a surgeon, get that promotion, get a raise in six months. But the fact is that life is so much messier than that. Instead, you can’t find a job, get laid off when the company tanks, get divorced by 40, face a diagnosis you weren’t expecting or lose a loved one.
And it’s so tough to handle what life throws at us because we browse Facebook and see younger people than us who seem much more successful or who have their dream job before we do. We see all our friends growing up, having kids and getting married. Jealousy sneaks up on you. Or tackles you to the ground outright. But the worst part isn’t even the jealousy; it’s that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach that tells you you aren’t good enough. That you didn’t work hard enough, that you will never make it to what you want out of life. I mean, if you haven’t made it by now, who’s to say you ever will?
It’s so ridiculously easy to get discouraged or lose motivation. It’s also easy to settle for much less than you deserve. You settle for an office job because it pays the bills, even though they treat you horribly. You plan on using the money to save for Europe, but years pass and you still haven’t gone to Europe.
What I’m trying to say is that life is an absolute mess.
The most important thing to do is to continue pushing through these obstacles and finding a way to keep trying for your goals — even if you may just want to give up.
One example that comes to my mind is college. So many friends of mine have made it close to the end of senior year and dropped because they wouldn’t be able to graduate on time. They feel ashamed, as if a late graduation would be more embarrassing than dropping out early. And the thing that sucks about that is that you achieve your goals at your own pace. And that’s okay! If you drop out and go back 10 years later, awesome! If you didn’t go to college after high school and you’re finally wanting to go at age 50, awesome! I had an older woman in my class last year, 70 years old, who was bored during her retirement. Awesome!
For me, the goal that’s driving me insane lately is trying to buy a car. I’m a college student who only works part time. I’m trying to avoid more loans, so I’ve been saving for 4 years now. Every time I feel like I’m getting close, or ready to send a down payment, the tornado hits and I have to throw my money at something else. I just had to buy a new laptop after my old one completely gave up on me. It’s so frustrating! I feel like I’m putting out fires left and right, and not making any progress towards my goal. And then I feel angry that I can’t catch a break and want to give up on the endeavor altogether.
I worry that people are judging me for not having a car yet, and I just wish I could explain how hard this all is. UGH. I have to remind myself all the time that, in the long run, I’ll get there and that I’m doing what I need to do now. Just because I haven’t gotten there yet doesn’t mean I won’t ever get there. This slow pace will pay off in the end.
Life doesn’t have a time limit.
I mean, technically it does if you’re talking about death. (Sorry for the morbid comment) But it’s not like, once you hit 25, college is off limits to you. You can adopt a child at age 60 if you want. You can get married as a 95-year-old. Just because you’ve never been into health and fitness doesn’t mean you can’t start today.
What I’m trying to say here is that it’s okay to be behind where you feel like you should be in life. There aren’t rules about this stuff. Taking your time, or working through something slowly, isn’t something to be ashamed of. My mom told me this thing once (and she’s a wise woman, so listen up. Hi mom!) that there will always be someone doing better than you, in the career you want, living the dreams you want to live. They’ll be prettier and richer than you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still work towards the things you want for your own life. Comparing your journey to someone else’s is unfair to both of you.
So don’t get dragged down in thoughts that you aren’t good enough or haven’t worked hard enough. You’ll get there.
One step forward is still a step forward. Three steps forward and two back — that’s still a step forward too. Don’t put yourself down for making progress just because it’s slow. Just keep swimming, and remember that any progress is still progress.
You can do this.