I have grown up thinking that I should have achieved so and so by a particular age. Somehow, I personally connected age to my aims and achievements. If I didn’t achieve a particular thing/aim by a certain age, I deemed myself a failure. I was tough on myself.
I would look at other people my age, mostly celebrities and feel bad. They had their own house (or houses), were taking care of themselves and their families, paying their own bills, handling their own accounts, travelling to exotic locales for vacations, wearing exquisite creations and also, working hard at their jobs, whether it was in the Sport or Entertainment industry.
It took me awhile to understand that everyone doesn’t work at the same pace. That all jobs don’t get the same amount of respect or payment, that every job has different demands. And the most important, everyone works on their own clock.
As rightly said by Satchel Paige,
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
True, I may not have a house to my name yet, and I haven’t travelled much and I haven’t worn expensive designer dresses. But I have been working successfully as a teacher for the past four years, I am financially independent, can afford good quality essentials and can take care of myself and my family. I actually know the basics of banking and am paying my own bills. I am also saving money for a rainy day.
I think I have achieved quite a lot. If I compare myself with successful celebrities who are born in the same year as me, I am bound to feel sad.
Sure, they are super rich now and are known all over the world, but they will be constantly afraid that they can’t maintain the lifestyle, paparazzi follows them everywhere, and they are not allowed to have a bad hair day, they are role models for their younger fans and cannot afford to slip up and if they are super wealthy at fifteen, what kind of a childhood did they have?
I am not demeaning anyone here, myself or the celebrities. In fact, the point that I am trying to make here is, in order to gain something, you need to lose something. You just need to be ready to make necessary sacrifices and adjustments. If you are lucky enough to choose and follow your dream (it could be a career, or it could be ‘family’ or it could be travelling all over the world) then you need to work hard to achieve it. Nothing can be achieved without hard work. And the grass always looks greener on the other side.
What about those people who share their birth year with me and are not as fortunate as me? What then?
What will they say? It’s all in your perspective. For some, age may just be a number. For others, age may be a motivating factor to achieve something. For still others, age may bring in maturity, decision making capacity and a handle on their emotions.
Yes, it’s very easy to say, “Look at her, she’s 25! She’s so mature and independent. She’s taking care of her two little girls so well. What are you doing?”
I’ll reply, “Umm…nothing. She’s great, I totally agree. But we are both different individuals, happy in our own respective spaces. So, please don’t compare us with one another.”
Comparison should lead to a healthy competition and better results, not people and feelings getting hurt.
I have finally stopped comparing myself with others, irrespective of their age or mine. It’s merely a very effective way of making myself upset; as if there aren’t other factors doing exactly that.
I am going to end with this beautiful Maya Angelou quote,
“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is age.”