From the moment we are put into school, we always know what’s next for us. If you’re in Grade 4, you’ll go to Grade 5 the following year. If you’re in high school, the next step is college and so forth. Eventually though, you may reach a point in your life where society tells you that you have to have all the answers.
For a while, people will tell you that you’re young and you’ll figure it out. But eventually you’ll get to a certain age where people won’t give you the same graciousness when it comes to your life. You’re expected to have your entire life figured out, and if you don’t, you feel behind, lost, or perhaps even depressed.
But I need you to understand fully that you don’t need to have all the answers to your life. You don’t need to be a certain age to realize what you want or who you want to be with or what you want to spend your time doing because there is no timeline. Moreover, the timeline we create for ourselves is adhering to other people’s stories about how life should look or how it should feel. But no journey is the same, nor should it be. Some people have dreamt about being a lawyer or a doctor from a very young age. To some, people may view this as being ‘lucky’ or ‘finding their calling’. But at its core, it simply just means that these people found what makes them happy before you did, and that’s all.
Whether you’re 30, 40, or even 50, there is always time to find what deeply calls you and lights up your soul. You hear stories about people stumbling into their dream life without ever realizing fully that it was ever there. They only put the pieces together by following the inner makings of their life, which is constantly leaving clues and signs as to which way you should turn next.
Social media makes this self-limiting timeline a reality for ourselves. Imagine yourself going on Instagram and being constantly bombarded by wedding posts, success posts, and all the glamor that other people’s lives contain. You think to yourself, “Wow, this person is so happy—look at their amazing life.” But what we don’t realize is that behind the selfie is usually someone that is searching for validation from others. Perhaps they had a bad day and are looking to relieve their pain by the temporary release of an ego boost. That’s what we don’t see between the photographs; but as the saying goes, a picture is always worth a thousand words.
You see, social media is just a glimpse of someone’s life—a snapshot of their reality that consists of things that person wants to show the world. But very rarely will it be a glimpse at the real thing, just a fabricated version of it. We wear a mask online and hide our true selves from the rest of the world to change the narrative of other people’s perceptions of us. At face value, this is when someone is not secure enough in themselves, so they feel a need to showcase a ‘better’ version of themselves, one that perhaps is a reflection of the person they wish to be.
But this portrayal of perfection is not real and the idea that life is just a straight line you follow will never be real either. That’s why it’s so important to show yourself the compassion, love and kindness that you need to dictate your own path and follow your own signs. Otherwise, you may find yourself increasingly unhappy following other people’s signs until you question what your life has become.
So, to the person struggling to find themselves right now…
Take your time. There is no rush to ‘figure’ yourself out. In fact, there is no such thing as having your life figured out. You will always run into problems, struggles, and challenges, but how you navigate through them makes all the difference. So please, stop putting this fictional idea of a life figured out on a pedestal that dictates how you feel about yourself. You can define yourself and your life by the metrics that you choose. There is no competition. There is no rule that says you need to have all the answers in your life, but rather, the inclination to follow your curiosity in your life and see where it leads, one step at a time. It’s only when you get to the top of one mountain that you can enjoy the view and decide if it’s for you; don’t just decide while you’re climbing it that it’s the right one for you based on an idea that you’ll love the view. Follow it and wait for the next signal.
There is no deadline for your life. So choose to be happy now and enjoy the chaotic mess that your life looks like on the outside. Because as long as it feels right on the inside, then there’s no reason to put unnecessary pressure on your life to be or become someone that you’re not.