Life takes its turns down streets we’re completely oblivious to sometimes.
People we see in our forevers can quickly be steered into past tense. You could finally reach something you thought was your dream, just to find out it’s not where your heart is. You may have to revisit old pain, and you come across new ones as well.
We’re so used to idolizing the success of people around us that we set limits and timeframes for ourselves that are more focused on everyone other than us. Depictions of meeting your goals at a fast pace excites us. Tremendously.
Think about it.. Entertainers, for example. Rappers, actors, models, producers, etc. They all made the right connections to the point where they reached the peaks of their careers quickly, and in the public eye. All we see is them fulfilling their dreams. We hear a little bit about their lives before who we see them to be now, but for the most part, we see the “dipped in gold” portion of them and their career.
The idea of them reaching their success that fast makes us want to do the same. But the minute we’re faced with an obstacle, closing the door becomes more of an option than using it for growth.
I’ve learned that you absolutely should set goals for yourself, but if you have to postpone them for reasons out of your control, you have to turn those into lessons to grow. Mistakes, life obstacles, change are all precursors for a better you. A lot of what happens, though, is people allowing life’s changes to defeat them. We allow them to cut our path off instead of veering into another one.
You do yourself a disservice once you start to compare the work for yourself to the work of others..
We see the money and fame celebrities/public figures reach at young ages and it makes us question our timeframes.
We see on our timelines the professional success our peers make and it makes us put our jobs into a different perspective.
We see the social success of people every day (marriage and having children, for example), and it makes us evaluate our statuses.
We see the portrayal of love and relationships on memes, fake-deep quotes, and pictures online and it makes us yearn at what-if’s.
We link what’s societally acceptable to our lives.. Get school done in this many years. Be married by this age. Have children not too young, but not too old. Dress gender-appropriate, and look sexually appealing to find a partner, but not too revealing or you’ll look promiscuous. Get this degree. Once you’re done with school, do this. Get this done in this timeframe…
Because that’s what we SHOULD be doing. We get so lost in satisfying the norms in everyone else’s heads around us. It makes sense to them and fits their ideologies of how things SHOULD be done, then if you do it differently, all of a sudden it’s wrong.
We’re so used to satisfying the voices around us.. But at what point do we put them on mute?
Stop. Pause. Breathe. Shut them out & prioritize YOUR voice.
Ask yourself what success means to you. Then, decide a path that reaches that goal for you and not a single soul outside of that. Don’t be discouraged when you hit a bump in the road, or when life happens and steers you a different direction. We can’t get sucked into the here & now type of thinking just to sound good during small talk conversations.
We all know people who dealt with life’s roadblocks and societal opinions at the same time – and sometimes we’re one of them. Young mothers being shamed for their age & having a child. Living with your parents or with groups of friends to save money. Being a 5th year senior. Wanting to rush your financial stability so you settle for get-rich-quick schemes..
It’s so easy to want more out of your situation when the highlights of everyone else’s lives surround our vision and peripheral. But we have to not focus on the here & now, and put emphasis on longevity and depth. We also have to make sure we severely focus on OUR success and OUR paths, and no one else’s. The pressure of the voices around us are inevitable. But pressure does one of two things – breaks us down, or makes diamonds. Think about that.
It’s okay to not have your life figured out at this very moment – you can continue to shape yourself as you get older. It’s okay to be stuck. You’re going to have to relearn things. You’re going to have to understand that growth and change cause more pain than joy. How you react to shortcomings defines you more than the bad things that happen along the way. But you also need to understand that God allows situations to happen to show us what’s limiting us from being the best you.
THAT is where you learn. That is where you grow.
Life happens. Don’t focus on someone else’s success and how they got there. Don’t make your “road to success”similar to anyone else’s. Keep your path, roadblocks, and overcoming life’s happenings unique to YOU. Understand you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone – especially when it comes to what you should be doing. And the next time you get uncomfortable during a small talk conversation, shoot them a smile and let them know, “My story is still being written.”
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” -Franklin Roosevelt
Photo: Pursuit of Portraits NYC
-Keilani M Afalava