“I’m so late!” “I have to be at the office at 9am” “My lunch break ends in 10 minutes, let’s hurry up!”. Timelines are the backbones of life. We always seem to be chasing time, trying to catch up on the day’s activities. These timelines keep us in line and it’s important to adhere to them, EXCEPT for your personal timeline, the one that reflects your goals, milestones and growth.
Personal timelines don’t really exist, yet somehow, we’re convinced that we’re getting “too old for…” or “too old to start…”. Who is keeping track? Is there someone out there keeping a tab on each and everyone one of us? Or perhaps comparing our journeys, “Tee started reading at the age of 4 years, but Jay started at 3 years 11 months, so Jay is in the lead!”. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? And although it does, YOU still do it. You look in the mirror and say, “She’s my age yet she’s already married with 2 kids”, or perhaps, “She’s my age and she’s already achieved most of her career goals” and we start to convince ourselves that “time is running out”.
If you’ve read my previous blog post, you already know who I’m going to blame for this concept of life’s timelines: SOCIETY (duh!). But this time it’s more than just society, it’s about our friendship circles, the people who we live with and love, and the type of behaviour and environment that we’re exposed to. Different families have different expectations of their relatives. For example, some families expect their daughters to be married straight after graduation (high school or university), while others expect them to move out of the house by 21 and hold a stable job. But at the end of the day, life happens, and this affects your personal timeline. And since we all don’t live the same life, we cannot expect to have the same timeline.
YOUR timeline doesn’t have to coincide with THEIR timeline. Look at me, I’m a 25 old, who is still studying towards a degree, with no actual job experience, living at home with my parents, and yes, I am eating their food and driving their car. It seems like I am way off my timeline, people around this age are now getting promotions, getting married, having kids, taking luxury vacations, or even relocating to other countries. Here I am, still enjoying the fruits of my parents’ labour (relax, they love it, and they love having me in their house!).
That’s the thing about timelines. Although it’s so easy to compare yourself to what YOU think life should be like at a certain age, you miss out on some of the gems that you have/experienced at this age that most people haven’t. For example, I may be 25 and studying, but I’m also 25 with 3 degrees, studying towards my 4th, I’m also 25 with almost 5 years of scientific research experience. I’m also 25 with no debt. I’m also a 25-year-old who works with cancer drugs and cells. I’m also a 25-year-old…. And the list can go on.
This applies to almost every facet of life, whether it’s career, love, marriage, opportunity or perhaps something else. Your timeline shouldn’t be looked at with disappointment it should be looked at with hope. For example, instead of feeling down that you’re 28 and still trying to figure out your career path, you should feel hopeful that you’ve had years of experience with skills that can be used as stepping stones in your next career move, tell me who else has all those valuable skills? I know of several people who did not follow society’s timeline, yet they are just as or even more successful than those who did. Some of them took longer to get their first job or degree, but are now content and well off, while some of them took much longer to find the right partner, but are now happily married.
Personal timelines do not exist. Take your time and enjoy the experience you’re having, most likely, you’ll still end up at the same, if not a better place than you thought. Be happy for those who are “on-track” without feeling sorry for yourself. At the end of the day, whether you’re ahead of the team, or the last one running, there will always be someone cheering you on and someone who “boos” you. Your only focus should be on making it to the finish line, it’s not a timed race.