What is more challenging and nerve-wracking than being a 25-year-old in 2016?
It is challenging enough to be a 25-year-old woman say in the 1970s. However, add up social media and that makes the journey to adulthood even crazier.
I’ve recently spoken to a friend on several occasions about contentment and finding happiness in what we have as of the moment. Of course, we’ve also talked about the times in the recent past when we were still in the stage in our lives where the unspoken competition with other people our age was at its strongest and when we were still playing in it viciously.
Social media simply shows (and hides) a lot of stuff in a person’s life. You see people graduating from college, becoming doctors, becoming lawyers, going overseas, getting engaged, getting married, getting pregnant, having babies, getting promoted, getting cars, building houses, and so much more. You see what movie/book/TV show they’re currently watching/reading. Heck, you even read how they feel (insert “feeling loved”, “feeling sad”, “feeling blessed”). You practically see what everyone’s up to.
It’s a lot to see and digest everything I’ve just mentioned coming from people close to you – people you actually know in real life. Imagine your high school classmate, college buddy, childhood best friend, varsity teammate, coworker, etc. It takes so much more to actually see these people apparently doing so well in life while you are there feeling like you’re struggling with every life decision you have to make.
Naturally, human beings are competitive. Also, we are jealous. We like to compare. A lot of us are fixated with the child in us wanting what your playmate has. We like to look at our classmate’s lunchbox without even knowing what’s inside ours.
When you see someone engaged, you immediately question why on earth can’t you even have a long-term relationship. When you see someone getting pregnant, all you see is the excitement she’s experiencing. When you see someone getting promoted, you ask why can’t you even get a raise. When you see someone bag the job you always dream of, you think why can’t it be you when you believe you can do as good or even better. When you see someone travel overseas, you imagine her income to be sky-high and envy her. When you see someone become a doctor, you tell yourself you were so much smarter than him in high school.
This competition is so much felt in people from the same age group i.e. batch mates. We tend to compare our lives to each other’s. This may be because we have grown together under the same developmental expectations for so long that the custom has become hard to break. We see parents of young children do this in school. Picture a mother who shares stories about her kid to other parents outside the classroom. Her little story telling about how her little Joanna likes to dance to One Direction songs has spiralled into a parents’ bragging session of their kids’ dancing skills and why their kid is the best dancer. In so many ways and probably because of the negative use of social media, we have become our own parents.
I have learned that while being hard on yourself gets you results most of the time, it could also get you burned out. No matter how difficult, I have learned to try and find comfort in my situation. I am a critical person and I’m still working on letting my hair loose. It is because I have learned that while you plan and work so hard for what you want, there will always be a far more superior plan than the worldly one you have set for yourself. No matter how much my five-years-ago-self would hate hearing me admit this, it is true that you cannot plan everything in life. You cannot planner or journal or timeline your way into life, much less into success. You have to live. And major part of living is enjoying the process – looking at where life takes you. My biggest comfort would always be in the fact that my God is always there which is why in so many instances in my life recently, I have simply surrendered everything to Him. Everything. Growing up I’ve known and have constantly been assured that He will take me there. I may not know where or how or how long but in my heart I am confident He will. That thought will always be the best balm to my aching and tired heart.
Just today, I have resolved to live in the moment. While many would use #YOLO (‘You Only Live Once’) to motivate themselves in getting through their life’s battles, I have resolved to have my own #YOYO. Mine just goes ‘You’re Only Young Once’. So I’m making a deal with myself and that inner parent inside me to just enjoy growing up and not rush getting old.
You see, we all have different stories. Remember that just because it is happening to her now doesn’t mean it’s never gonna happen to you or that it’s gonna be less meaningful because you didn’t go through it first. It will be your turn. Believe in it. Wait for it. Life doesn’t turn out the same for all of us. And it not being similar isn’t a sad thing. In fact, it is what makes it beautiful. Its being unpredictable and rocky are the very characteristics that make life more thrilling. It makes you look forward to mornings. It makes you appreciate the little quiet moments. I have said it before and I’ll never tire of saying it because life is indeed beautiful. #
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