At 25 years old, I run my own marketing agency, teach in a university, and frequently host workshops for students and professionals. A lot of people tell me I’m doing this adulting thing really well. A lot of people compliment me on how I’ve pretty much figured out my life.
A lot of people are wrong.
I will be the first to tell you that I am not doing this adulting thing really well. I have not figured out my life. It’s flattering to know that I give off that impression but the truth is I’m clueless and very confused. I’ve never worked for an agency before. I’m just a few years removed from the classes I am now teaching to others. I’m feeling my way around almost all the time.
Many of my decisions are really driven by my gut than based from actual experience. What do you expect? I’ve never done any of this before. And that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay.
Although, I wasn’t always this comfortable with uncertainty. There was a point in my life when I was committed to figuring things out as fast as I could. I thought that if I had this position or recognition, I’d be happy and fulfilled. If I didn’t achieve this by this time, I’d fall behind my peers. I lost sight of who I truly was and became more of who people expected me to be. It was quite a toxic time.
Why am I rushing to get ahead? I asked myself this question a few years back and the answer I found was humbling. I wanted to get ahead because of the social pressure. My craving for acceptance manifested itself in my unhealthy obsession with reaching the next milestone. I was taught to cross off the To Do’s and the Must Haves of life because that’s the only way things will get better. Society told me I must be this or I must do that in order to be truly happy. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that.
We’re always looking for the next achievement, always hungry for life’s next trophy or award. We fail to realize however that the happiness is absolutely fleeting at these peaks. We’re never truly satisfied because these “wins” are quick highs. Euphoric, addicting, but absolutely harmful. It hits you hard and leaves you with a feeling of emptiness after. Life then becomes all about getting that next high.
This realization became a foundation of my attitude and success today. Since then, I’ve learned to embrace the uncertainties of life. I’ve learned to value external validation less and instead be my own source of confidence. I’m no longer driven by social pressure. I am now more motivated to do things simply because they are important to me. It feels liberating to navigate life at my own pace free from the expectations of others. I wish I had done it sooner.
We live in the time of teenage Bitcoin millionaires, college-dropouts-turned-CEOs, and a whole lot of people below the age of 30 making a dent on the universe. The pressure we put on ourselves to “make an impact” or “get ahead in life” is at an all-time high. It’s not even fair anymore. We need to be mindful enough to recognize this pressure, set it aside, and focus on doing what is best for us and our circumstances. We’re not all living at the same pace or on the same timeline. There’s almost no use comparing. There’s no lasting benefit of getting ahead.
I can’t tell for sure if I’m on the right path. I can’t tell for sure if I’m making my dent. I do know though that living up to unrealistic expectations will only cause me anxiety, frustration, and pain. I am who I am today simply because I now just focus on living my life at my own pace. No pressure to get to the next milestone, no more craving for the next high.
The moment you stop rushing life is the moment it begins.