Okay, saddle up chaps; I’m about to say something bold. Ready?
Your life is on track and you don’t need to rush through it for a series of arbitrary goals.
Yes, it is ridiculously hard to have friends that may seem like they are ahead of you. More successful. Higher up in their career field. In a longer-term relationship Living independently. Wealthier. Fitter. Just in general, better.
While it may be the objective truth that someone’s job title is more senior than yours, or that they’ve been in a relationship for a greater number of days, it doesn’t really mean all that you may think it does.
Their success is not your failure
Well, for one, these things aren’t permanent states of being. Just like it’s unreasonable and counterintuitive to expect to be happy all the time, you can’t always be successful. You wouldn’t know the hills from the valleys without a bit of context. Therefore, and you don’t have to be a bad person for thinking this, people won’t always be successful. Neither will you.
But you also won’t be where you are now, forever. Not by any means.
Indeed, these people in their flashy jobs aren’t necessarily happy. For all we know they could be horribly adrift or feeling under utilised. In short, they are people too, and like it or not, they could be spiralling for having the dream job just as much as you spiral for not having it. Such is life. But that’s not the point here. Not only are the people themselves often deluding themselves about how great life is, but the very concept of a ‘dream job’ is a contentious one.
Firstly, it presumes that capitalistic goals can be neatly aligned with personal wellness and satisfaction. That’s unrealistic at the best of times. Secondly, we are conditioned to believe that with money comes power, control and contentment. To a degree there is truth in that in as far as we can have shelter, food, education and effective leisure time. However, in order to ‘better’ ourselves we have to be promoted, or be paid more to reflect our relative success and wealth. Here, our livelihood becomes our identity and in turn our value as a human being. All tied up in a wage.
Their goals are not your goals!
Therefore, to put too much stead in the necessity to risk your life, mental health in the pursuit of the ‘dream job’ supposes that the ‘goal’ of life is fundamentally economic. It can’t be. Therefore, if it’s not your goal, don’t judge yourself on its terms, because you will never be prioritised by them. It will also tire you out and weaken your mentality to be unique and independent. Your efforts may masquerade as being in your own interest, but really they keep you in place and further the ruling government’s agenda.
Okay, so I’m soundly lowkey Socialist here but you get my drift. Try to separate where your goals are and you will find that they are much more achievable. It’s often people who are achieving things that never occurred to you or weren’t on your radar that stress us the most. That’s why: we never thought to prioritise them. Just because someone else does, doesn’t mean we need to, but it shakes our belief.
Quick side note:
There’s a fine line between genuine self-improvement and what I have just described. Sometimes people will come along that are a genuinely good influence on terms that you value. Such as getting you out on jogs, applying for ambitious jobs, or introducing you to new people. Those people you can and should keep up with!
However, it’s the people that you hold up on a pedestal that make you feel a random compulsion to either be jealous of them or become them. That’s a situation that’s no good to anyone. Frustratingly, they don’t realise the power they inadvertently hold over your sense of identity. Once you establish patterns of supplanting your own interests with theirs, it’s all the harder to get back to your own goals and roots.
Therefore, it’s important to try to know your own limits, tendencies and hobbies so that you can step back to recognise your own goals and desires. Once you do so, you can lay out some achievable, reasonable goals and life markers that actually make sense to you.
On to more salacious matters
In matters of sex and sexual development it’s also portion of life where you can feel particularly intensely isolated. Maybe your younger sister’s boobs started growing before yours. Or indeed, your best friend slept with a guy before you even considered the matter. Don’t ask me why, but I was so busy hyper-fixating on why I didn’t feel the need to sleep with a man that I unconsciously repressed my attraction to women. Go figure, I guess.
Still, it’s difficult not to feel behind, even if you don’t feel in a huge rush. It’s natural to feel like life is passing you by. In your 20s it feels like your childhood was decades ago, and yet you don’t feel like an adult. Not a proper one, anyway. And yet we want to have sex and watch R rated films and stay out all night. All of the above is valid, but when we’re selective about how much of an adult we want to be, it’s impossible to feel satisfied in performing ‘adulthood’. And therein lies the issue.
There is often an urgency to have done things, without the accompanying desire to be doing so. To have had sex. To have moved out. Quite apart from the fact that the first time is always weird and alien, or that moving out is a nightmare of bureaucracy. We still feel a compulsion to be moving or progressing against some invisible timeline of Life.
This isn’t the Game of Life, though. It doesn’t end with the highest scoring player winning when mum calls for you to set the table.
With that vaguely nihilistic thought in mind, I propose that you take a step back and close your eyes. Open them again when you think of something you want to achieve. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that we generally work harder for the things we care about. Shocking, I know.
Life tends to begin upon the realisation that we don’t actually have to do any of the above. Not if you don’t want to. Yes, capitalism insists that you have some type of job to get by, but if you don’t have a dream job, don’t stress! If you don’t want to have sex or get married – don’t!
Your time on this earth will probably not have a Wikipedia section marked ‘early life’, ‘successes’ and ‘death’. It also probably won’t be marked with ‘first time she had sex’ or ‘that time I got a bonus at that job I hated’.
Like, I’m fairly sure that time doesn’t even technically exist.