When kids grow up, their successes and developments are pretty standard. In the first three months, kids are able to recognize familiar voices and faces. By six months they’re able to roll over and respond to their name. While everything isn’t cookie-cutter, there’s a sense of natural progression that happens for the early years of a child’s life that allows for stability and control. (Admittedly, the first second anything doesn’t happen within the monthly buckets, all bets are off.)
Wouldn’t it be nice if adults had the benefit of a handy chart or weekly email to tell us where we should be at?
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what’s next. What have I accomplished? Am I doing what I should be? Where do I go from here? On top of it, it’s hard to tell whether doing more will quell the fear or make it worse. We never seem to be satisfied with our lives, our jobs, or our relationships. Especially as we’re told we can do anything we set our minds to, we feel any time we don’t achieve those things we’re somehow a failure.
I believe a large part of this has to do with our tendency to compare ourselves to others we relate to in some way (age, gender, job, race, etc). This has become especially easy to do with the Internet: not only do we see what our friends are up to, but we’re constantly seeing others doing things we believe are wildly incredible.
On one hand this is good: we should always be looking to improve. On the other, we need to make sure we don’t have an unhealthy preoccupation with doubt, and focus on defining a path forward.
I believe the answer to “what’s next” comes in finding yourself. We feel like we’re not achieving things, but really we’re on a different path. Understanding what that path is for ourselves is difficult, but important to help quell our fears. Often, thinking back on my path I remember why I am where I am: not as an excuse, but as a reminder of my strength and determination. We need to take time to break from normal, find ourselves, and get back to writing our own story.
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