I am aware that no two paths are alike and everyone is unique but human beings have this kind of herd mentality that they find hard to resist. And time and again we struggle with the same ideas and situations. This is especially true when one has graduated from high school and stepped out into the world. There is a burning desire to be independent and prove yourself to the world. To be successful and earn big bucks. To make your parents proud. To be better than your friends, even if you wouldn’t admit it to yourself.
There is nothing wrong with all these lofty goals except that they leave you unfulfilled. On the surface it seems like all these things would make you happy but on the contrary they just keep you trapped in a system that gives too much importance to appearances.
Some of us feel we owe something to our parents who have raised us and supported us. That warped sense of responsibility sometimes makes us blindly follow their bidding even though it is not what we want. We have a greater responsibility to ourselves. To be authentic and to follow our heart. Because that is the only way to happiness. And only if we are happy can we spread joy to others.
If you are miserable pursuing your parents failed ambitions and dreams, you get resentful. The poison spreads and ruins your relationship with your parents. You cannot succeed at something you don’t love. Maybe you can do it very well and get a lot of money for it and for some of you that is success. But really it goes deeper than that. It is a sense of fulfillment, belonging, something that makes you feel alive, a sense of joy that you share with all around you. When you find that, I want to say you have succeeded. But in my experience someone who follows their heart, knows that there is no destination, only milestones on this glorious path. We can’t do the same thing all our lives, we are much too talented and diverse. So be flexible and diversify. Embrace change and don’t get stuck in a rut.
Don’t blindly follow the timeline society has spelled out for you. Graduate, find a job, date, get married, have kids, send kids to college, retire, etc. Some flit from one stage to the other seamlessly and effortlessly. Others struggle and think something is wrong with them. Why can’t I find a job? Why can’t I find a mate? Why can’t I have kids? I can’t afford to retire! So on and so forth. Believe me I’ve been there and I’ve learnt that there is a time and a season for everything. If you find yourself working hard and having no social life, nothing is wrong with you. If you find yourself taking a break and raising your kids, it’s not the end of the world. If you can’t retire then there is so much more the world needs from you. None of it lasts forever. A dry spell is always followed by a torrential downpour, that leaves you gasping in disbelief at your good fortune. Some of us are late bloomers, some young geniuses, some mid-life career changers. Don’t fall into the one-size-fits-all myth that society keeps feeding you. Break free and follow your own timeline, knowing that the meandering paths lead you ultimately to where you want to be.
Work to make a living but don’t let work consume your entire life. Don’t make the mistake of saving up all your money to enjoy your retired life. What if something big like a health condition or untimely death of your spouse leaves you in debt. What if you wait for your kids to leave home so you can see the world and your kid decides to go to a neighborhood college and stay home. So many things can upset your best laid plans. So remember to live in the now and enjoy every day. Money and success are not the only things worth pursuing.
Take care of your health because that is the one big thing that determines how well and how long you live. Young people tend to take their vibrant health for granted. They skip meals, eat junk, party, sleep late and seem to bounce out of it. It’s ok to do these things once in a while, but to make it your lifestyle is hazardous to your health and well-being. Cultivate moderation now and it will serve you well later in life. Don’t wait for your health to go south before you start a good exercise and diet regimen.
Dare to be you, even under the scrutiny of your peers. Resist the temptation to follow the herd even if they seem to be headed to greener pastures. Spend some time on personal development and quiet contemplation. Don’t always look outside for the answers, learn to look within. Don’t blame your circumstances when things go wrong, take the responsibility to change it. And stop trying to please everyone and to have it all and do it all. It only leaves you exhausted and frustrated. Prioritize and work toward meaningful goals, while you focus on health, happiness and well-being. Success simply has to follow.