I don’t know if it’s just our generation, but in today’s society, there’s always this “pressure to succeed”. And in my opinion, it’s already causing people who are in their 20s to burn out.
What is this pressure to succeed anyway? I guess it’s the drive in all of us to want and the need to have EVERYTHING at an early age. I mean, we’ve already mapped the whole thing out even before we graduate high school. We already have this picture in our minds: to graduate college by 20, take up masters before 24, get a high paying job to sustain our “needs”, get a car and a condo before turning 26, get married at 28, settle and have a family before 30, travel the world before having kids, retiring at the age of 40. We all create this timeline in which we try to fit in so many things in a small amount of time.
I guess this starts when we were younger, when we were taught that we should be able to handle everything all at the same time. When you have school, varsity practice and guitar lessons all at the same time as a kid, it embeds you with this sense of responsibility that you should be able accomplish a lot even if you are given so little time. I mean, I think it’s already rare nowadays for kids to just sit around and just stare into nothing, or enjoy a nice quiet walk. We were all trained to be preoccupied with something, because we were taught not doing anything would result to failure.
I’ve recently found myself in this crossroads when I was faced with the choice for my career and it somehow made me think of what my life is and how I see myself. When I tried to see the pros and cons between the decisions that I was trying to choose from what really helped me was when my best friend asked me, “why are you in such a hurry?”. It was a simple question and it made me realize one thing, why was I in a hurry. Why was I so stuck on the decision that I had to make now when there are still a lot of opportunities that could come later. Why did I want to make things happen right now when I still have time to think about. I guess he made me realize that what I needed was time to actually see things pan out. Why was I so much in a hurry to get the job, the car, the house, the whole entourage when it’s still not age appropriate?
To add up to that, there’s this other dilemma, if you get to do everything when you’re young, what else is there to do afterwards? I mean, yeah, you’ve done everything you can before hitting 40, now what? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seize the days as they go by, I’m just saying let’s not overwhelm ourselves with things we really can’t handle. I think we suffer more by trying to accomplish so much so early because it doesn’t allow us to enjoy the things that come. We always treat things as should be, not as what they are, which takes all the sense of accomplishment out of the things that we get.
I guess this is vanity above all else. We like to compare ourselves with other people and let them know we are on top of everything. We like to see ourselves get have everything but not really enjoy much. And I think the main issue here is our sense of fulfillment. It’s enjoying things as they come and being happy with what we’ve done so far.
Consider this, if we are happy with the life that we lead, who cares if people our age are earning more than us but can’t spend a weekend on vacation. It’s all up to us and how we define our own success. Don’t use other people’s accomplishments are your standard for living, use your own because you are living your own life not theirs.
I’m not saying we should just wait for things to come, I’m just saying let things come at the right time. Don’t worry yourself too much with things that shouldn’t be in your resume right now. I mean, of course you can’t afford a car, it’s because you’re still working in your first job and still earning enough only to survive and save a bit for school. You can’t go an a eurotrip if you’re saving up for a condo. That’s the way things are, except well of course if you’re loaded, but if you’re just an ordinary person, that is extremely hard to do. You will kill yourself trying to get everything, and the sad part about it is that, you’re not even sure that getting everything will give you the happiness you think it’ll give you.
There are things that you should do now that can’t wait, and there are things that can wait for later. You can’t do everything at once and expect not to burn out after. You can’t travel abroad, save for a car, buy a condo and save up for an MBA all at the same time. It’s always better to focus on one thing rather than try to do everything and accomplish nothing. Give things a sense of timing, prioritize which are urgent and set aside things that can wait.
We should be able to let things come at the right time. Life is all about timing. The unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable, attainable. Have the patience, wait it out, it’s all about timing. – Stacey Charter