When I was younger, 22 seemed so far away. I had planned so much of how my life would be and the kind of person I would become. I had a long list of all that I would have already achieved by then and a vision of how amazing my life would be. I imagined my future to be bright. I assumed that I would fulfill the usual expectations of graduating, getting a job and getting married: all before the age of 25. These expectations were ingrained in me and ultimately became goals of mine. It was as though life’s meaning became based on a career or marriage and kids. The situation didn’t get any easier when everybody I knew started hitting these milestones all too quickly: some buying their own places, others getting engaged and others becoming fully financially independent. The countdown began and it felt like I was running out of time to get it all done. I paused and then it hit me: I shouldn’t have to rush to get it all done; it was not a to-do list. I was only 22. I still am.
So, when did 22 begin to feel like 30 and when did 30 begin to feel like 50? When did life become a series of deadlines by which we have to abide by? It’s as if the age we need to have it all figured out by gets moved a year earlier, annually. We get so caught up in trying to get there on time that we don’t realise there is nowhere we have to be other than where we are right now.
Realising how much life I still have to live makes me all the more excited to relinquish these pressures and expectations. I’m looking forward to enjoying life for what it is, and for whichever phase I’m currently in. Maybe I won’t get married by 25 or maybe I won’t get married at all. Maybe I will land my dream job early or maybe I will have to work hard to get there. Maybe I will have kids; maybe I won’t. I understand that these deadlines are nothing more than an illusion and this illusion no longer defines my success in life.
When I was younger, I thought that a successful life was one that was admired by everyone else. I thought I should aim for an existence that others envied.
Growing older I now see that it shouldn’t matter what anybody else thinks about your personal choices. After all, it’s your life to live. In spite of all the things I have not yet accomplished, the one thing I’m proud to have is the epiphany that nobody is watching your life waiting for you to fail. Everybody is wrapped up in their own stories and trying to achieve their own goals.
While I only have two and a half months left of being 22, I hope to fall in love: this time with myself and with my own growth. I hope I get married, but to my dreams and ambitions. I hope to have children: in the form of a dozen pot plants. Most of all, I hope to always remember to enjoy the process and to never rush through the messiness and chaos of life.