It’s funny how I fear growing old so much ever since I was 20. Aging is scary. It’s not only because the fine lines near my eyes are coming out, getting tired after 10 pm, or my family starting to ask questions about relationships and marriage, but also where I am heading in my life, and my fear of how little I’ve done for the 25 years passed. Turning 25, I am asking myself so many questions. Am I building up my career? Am I on the right path? Or am I wasting my time?
I am so stressed about growing older all the time. And frankly, I spent way too much time worrying I have not yet achieved anything than actually using this time to achieve something. And when I realized that, I know I need to stop. For people who can relate, there’s something I learned and still learning with my journey.
Give yourself the credit you deserve.
I work a lot, and I do work hard. With no doubts, work is the most important part of my life. I work on my daily job and many many side gigs. I try to learn as many aspects of my field and as many skill sets as I can. But most of the time, I still fear that someone else is working harder than me and getting ahead, which not surprisingly, made me blind with my achievements.
But even the little achievements are achievements. When we focus on the things we haven’t achieved yet and what we want in life so badly, we often forget the things we did achieve. After a while, it’s just easy to feel we achieved nothing. To try to remind myself I’m moving forward and to keep a journal of where I am, I write down a list of things I did achieve, little or big. By the end of the month, I am often surprised by what I have done. Because these achievements never entered my mind. Publishing an article, working with a big brand, being financially independent, all these things were neglected by me. Yet there are a lot of things deserve to be credited.
“Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.”
You are not behind schedule! I tell myself consistently. Everyone has their own timeline. Einstein had his annus mirabilis at age 26, while Colonel Sanders started KFC at age 65. Success is not defined by age. I am very lucky to have many successful friends. They do very well and have already gone very far ahead in their 20s, or even early 20s. It’s very unhealthy but I could not help to compare myself to them.
With my own experience, it is very painful to compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. I easily feel I am failing myself. I have to constantly reinforce the fact that people have different timelines and life is surprising. As long as you are working towards your goals and you have passion, you WILL get there someday! Please have faith! Instead of focusing on other people’s success, celebrate your own!
I do social media for a living. And it’s easy to feel very bad looking at other people’s wonderful “digital life”. But keep this in mind, most people only show the good things and achievements in their lives. They don’t tell you how many interviews they failed or how many rejections they got. They might struggle as you are. When you are comparing, you are comparing your normal life or even your low point to their highlights. And that’s not a fair comparison.
I got so upset when my boss handles important work to other colleagues, or not getting the chance to come into a meeting of manager level, when I have too much on my plate already and I have only worked for a little more than a year. It sounds like the silliest thing in the world, but not be able to do “ALL the work” makes me feel not “good enough”. The pressure of getting recognized of my work and my ability outweighed so much than the work itself.
But I forgot that seniority counts. Seriously. It is a nice thing to have ambition and goals. But setting the goals too high will crush you. The learning process cannot be cut short. As long as you are growing and doing a better job day by day, it is your success.
Aging is scary. But in my humble opinion, embrace the pace and enjoy the journey, that’s what life is really about. Remember, you are a super badass and there is still a long journey you are going to explore!