Sunday, May 6, 2018

You Are On Your Own Timeline

Everyone moves at their own pace through life, and you are no exception.

The pressure for people to complete certain "typical" life events at a specific time in their life is something that most millennials are familiar with. No matter how much you may tell yourself that you don't need to be concerned with what other people are doing, it's hard not to give in to comparison from time to time, especially if another person is succeeding at things at a much faster rate than you.

For example, our grandparents or even our parents were told that it was perfectly acceptable and even more common/more desirable to get married young (perhaps between the ages of 18-24, what people would consider young today). Nowadays it's more uncommon for people to marry someone between those ages, and while it does still happen it is less likely to garner an overwhelming positive response from people. More often it is seen as acceptable today to get married between the ages of 24-29, as the average age in this country for marriage is somewhere in that range. Many young people, especially young women, are told that from the ages of 18-24 that they should be seeking out that life-long partner, then marry between the ages of 24-29, and after marriage begin to have kids. This is one example of a timeline, so to speak, that is considered the "norm" and is generally accepted by society. For those people who are in their twenties and aren't following this specific timeline (i.e. have never had a romantic partner/don't want one, get married younger, get married older, etc.) this expected timeline can make you feel as though you're failing or falling behind.

Young people are also conditioned to think that at a certain point in their life they are supposed to have everything figured out; they are to have a career started, a place to live that isn't just a former frat house or a crappy studio apartment, and continue to be successful in their field. So many people switch from job to job, often changing the fields altogether. Most people don't have a successful career path until much later in their lives, yet young people are constantly ridiculed for not meeting a certain quota. I'm not talking about sitting around with no job and no motivation, but the pressure to have a long-lasting, successful career so early in life is frankly almost impossible, unless you're really lucky or know people in high places.

In regards to every age, we all feel this need to compare all the time. No matter how we work on this, it is a natural human act to feel even a little jealousy over someone else's successes. It may begin to feel like this, because someone else got the job you wanted and you are supposed to be at that level as well. After all, they're around your age; what have they done that you haven't? You begin to think you must be doing something wrong, or that you're not good enough. But trust me, everyone is on their own journey. It is not a race. It does not reflect your work ethic or how much you want something. Their time has come. Yours hasn't, but that doesn't mean it never will. Be patient.

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"Be patient" I think is the best advice to take from this. I'm still learning myself not to look at the things other people my age are doing and wonder why I'm so behind. I have to remember that I'm not behind at all, I'm just on a separate journey than they are. My time will come. So will yours.


Live Life By Your Own Timeline, Please

It wasn’t until I was 62 weeks into some random girl’s Instagram account that I realized I have a problem. The culprit for my deep scroll? Finding out the age of a has-probably-been-featured-on-the-Glossier-Instagram-account level lady who was (you guessed it) a dj/photographer/model. I had to make sure there was no way she was cooler AND younger than me. Because that just wouldn’t be fair. Right?

Hi, my name is Molly, and I’m obsessed with age.

I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. At times much to my parents’ dismay when as just a toddler I’d mix floral prints with plaid. My mother (on many accounts) told me she wished she’d put a sign around my neck that said “she dressed herself”. 

But all throughout my life I never really paid attention to what I “should” be doing. Until recently.

The trap of comparison is one most of us fall into from time to time. It’s one I thought I did a pretty good job of avoiding. I can identify that someone else’s beauty does not take away from mine, same with their unique talents or perceived success. Perhaps it’s because I always told myself “you’ll get there”, “you’re so young”, “you’re still figuring it out”, “your abs could look like that one day”. Until one day I woke up and convinced myself “you’re not that young anymore! Tick tock.” Tasty bait.

I’m 26. In the grand scheme of the average life span, I am young.

But our world seems to have a certain (unhealthy?) obsession with young success. 30 under 30 lists. Whiz kids on the cover of business magazines who “dropped out of college to build the next big tech startup”. Taylor Swift. I have chugged the Kool Aid.

Is it because when I was younger I imagined 26 to be so different? It sounded so much older than I really feel? Am I comparing myself to every other 26 year-old I come across? It’s hard to set goals at 18 of what you should be doing at 26 when you truly have no perspective on the subject. 

A blogger I follow who has a seemingly lovely life, husband, house, business and baby who I’d always assumed [insert cliche quote about being an ass] was in her mid-thirties, posted about her 27th birthday today – 27th. I’m four months out from 27 and have yet to keep a plant alive – I mean I killed a succulent the other day. Aren’t those supposed to be indestructible?

Here’s where my 26 year-old self isn’t going to give you some epiphanic answer to this internal youth-focused battle I’m fighting. I think it’s just a daily practice of making a conscious decision to wake up and just. stop. caring. Stop paying attention to that number we call age.

Don’t care about how young someone is. Don’t care about how old you are. Throw out your “by (x) age I want to achieve (x)” because I’m here to tell you that 9 times out 10 life will not abide by your neatly crafted calendar. 

If making a plan keeps you on track and makes you motivated to work, than by all means, do what works for you. But please don’t beat yourself up if by age 23 you didn’t get the 5,000 Instagram followers you were hoping for or mastered crow pose. Give yourself a break. Keep working towards those goals and keep striving to achieve them, age aside.  

Sure, timelines keep us moving. They keep us from being complacent for too long. But it’s time to start focusing more on how you achieve your goals, and less about how long [insert cliche quote about how long it took to build Rome] it takes to achieve them. The self-set goal of what you accomplish is what should matter. Not the length of time it took to get there. It could happen at 17, it could happen at 77. 

Try and enjoy where you’re at. Accept, embrace and relish in the messiness and the unknown. Make it a part of your story. And know that doing things on your own timeline makes you more interesting anyways.

But what do I know? I’m just 26.

[Insert cliche quote about age just being a number blah blah blah]

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