This Is Why I’m Done Competing With Myself

Woman sitting in field
Larisa Birta

As I am in the middle of my junior year of college, I have started to have thoughts and reflections on my life as a student. I have always been the kind of girl who constantly analyzes her life, what is happening, and what will happen. What kind of classes am I taking, what am I doing for this summer that can benefit me down the line? I am even the kind of person who helps other people figure out what they want to do in life, or possible ways of how to get there, but me? I am a thousand-piece puzzle who has only solved 20% of the problem.

So, why is this so hard? Why is thinking about the future so hard?

When I am asked the dreaded question of “What do you plan to do after college?” I just freeze. I have too many possible answers and there is not a single outlier. I know people say it’s okay that I do not fully know right now; but they are not in my shoes. They do not spend every day wondering.

I am a dreamer, I like to think of happy endings. Sometimes I think to myself that maybe I just need to let go. But to a person like myself, it is easier said than done. I need to listen to the old saying, “Let life take you away and see what happens.” I know it’ll be a scary ride, but life is scary – that’s kind of the point right?

Today in class I found out that my professor used to be a bartender. He had no shame, and said he actually enjoyed it most of the time. That got me thinking. A professor who loved writing as much as I do, if not more, was not writing. He was a bartender at my age and he was okay with that. Now he stands in front of a class looking back on his life and he smiles. I guess the point of it all is that everyone is different and that everyone has different paths and everyone goes on their paths at different speeds. And ‘everyone’ includes me.

I am developing as a person, as a woman, which means my tastes will change. My taste in food, men, and even my career will all alter eventually and that’s okay. I have been so stuck in the ONE pinpoint career that I thought I needed to have, that it did not come to mind that I am such a multidimensional person.

I enjoy music, I enjoy photography, I like movies, cooking, baking, sports, camping, all sorts of things. My life just adds more layers as I get older. My 20-year-old self is different than my 35-year-old self who will also be different than my 50-year-old self. In the end, my mindset needs to update. My mother used to tell me, “Sweetie, the world is not black and white, it is a giant scale of gray,” and I used to look at her like she was crazy. I would never understand that. How could that be so? It was always either A or B. But after 20 years and some growth, I finally understand dear old mum.

Why in our society do we have to know this question so deeply and intricately? No, the real question is, why do we feel like shit if we do not know this answer deeply? I am tired of feeling like I failed. I am tired of feeling like I let my mother down.

I am tired of comparing myself to others. It only hurts me. The only person I should be competing with is myself, and as long as I am a better person than who I was yesterday, I already won.

So this is for all the people out there that are in the same boat. It could be that you are graduating high school this year, college, graduate school, or possibly moving on up to another adult type phase in your life. I wish you good luck and I wish you true happiness.

Do not try to squeeze yourself into a box – we are the box cutter, we are made to open up what is inside. It took me years to get to the person that I am today, and I do not regret a single second of the journey. TC mark

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