It is a disconcerting feeling – one day you wake up and look at your newsfeed and you see your friends living enviable lives. Some are getting engaged, some are off traveling the world, some are making a name for themselves with career accolades accumulating at rapid pace. You were always so precocious, ahead of your peers and thought your future was going to continue in an unchallenged upward trajectory. You were like the hare, racing ahead towards some finish line, destined for success.
But success has eluded you. At some point, you fell behind. The tortoises, with their slow and steady pace, began to pull ahead. Maybe you took a detour somewhere along the way, maybe several detours. Maybe running so quickly for so long, you needed a rest. But while you spent so many evenings in pursuit of mindless entertainment, thinking you had plenty of time, everyone else seems to have been off writing a memoir, or developing and selling a business, or courting love. Suddenly, the perch from which you used to watch has broken and you’re left looking up at them.
You start to compare your life to theirs. What went wrong? Why don’t you have any of these things? Why don’t you have a new car, or a passport filled with stamps, or even enough money to eat out without worrying about paying rent at the end of the month?
It would have been impossible to imagine only a few years earlier. You were so sure of yourself, of your destiny. You knew that you had the talent and the authenticity to be successful. But another birthday arrives and you take stock – you are still struggling. How could this be?
Maybe you needed to be humbled. Maybe your ego had grown so large from early success, success that came too easily, it had to be diminished. Maybe you were not following on the right path and it was only a matter of time before you hit a dead end. Be grateful, you could have gone even deeper and been even more lost.
While you may feel anxiousness at the notion of passing time with little to show but debt and accumulated memories, you are in a beautiful place. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. If you were handed any of these things which look so enticing in the form of photographs and anecdotes, you wouldn’t know what to do with them. It would have been premature. You wouldn’t be ready.
It is dangerous to compare your journey to anyone else’s. You have your own unique life, with unique gifts and your experience will be unique. Someone else’s life may look attractive from the outside, but inhabit their shoes for a few moments and you may find a reality even more miserable than your own. When it is said, “Be careful what you wish for,” it is meant that you can’t possibly know what is good for you in the long-term, in the long view of existence. Only some greater knowledge with infinite foresight can know what you need to move you along your journey.
Existence is immensely generous. It always gives us what we need at exactly the time we require it. You only have to trust in your journey. There is no timeline to which you must adhere. There are no comparisons worth making. Rejoice, wherever you are. Celebrate here and now.