I can guarantee you that you’re not exactly where you thought you’d be. Or where you thought you should be by now.
It can feel discouraging, I know. Everywhere you look, you’re constantly reminded of what others are doing right, which you believe sheds a glaring and intrusive light upon what you’re doing wrong and where you’ve fallen short. You feel like you should be so much further ahead than where you’re at right now and even when you do want to take steps to rectify it, you don’t move as quickly as you thought you would. You face resistance and you fight against yourself when you are indecisive about what you want to do in the long-term future and what you have to do due to external pressures.
But stop right now and face the truth – right now, you are right here. You are right here.
And even though the weight of your self-imposed expectations, which were heavily influenced by the expectations that others said you should strive to exceed, crushes you so much that you lose hope of all the good things yet to come, you still cannot escape from the fact that all you can do is be aware of the present and accept it for what it is – you don’t have to force yourself to like it, but you do need to realize that it’s all you have control over and worrying about the alternative outcomes will only send you down into a toxic spiral of self-loathing, envy, and bitterness. Maybe you’re in that spiral now, but you absolutely don’t have to stay there, and you won’t stay there forever.
So here are some things to remind yourself when you think this isn’t where you thought you’d be at in life right now:
1. People may blatantly point out your failures and setbacks from the past, but their opinions of you based on their judgmental assessment do not have to define who you are right now. You can still redirect yourself and become the person you’ve always wanted to be, and you’re not predestined for failure, no matter how far behind you think you are.
2. If you believe that you aren’t where you want to be, you’re probably focusing too much on what you’re lacking in and not fully appreciating what you have enough of.
3. The only thing that will help you move forward is taking the first step in the direction that you’ve always been too afraid to take, out of the guilt that you’re not living up to other people’s standards. But this is an extraneous, self-sabotaging thought that will only keep you stuck in a place where you’re out of touch with your true self.
4. There’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t where you think you’re supposed to be. And be honest with yourself: is this “supposed to be” largely influenced by society and other people? If it is it’s only holding you back and preventing you from seeing your own untapped potential.
5. The plans of your past selves and the plans that others had for you couldn’t have guaranteed a specific outcome. They were only plans, and nothing more. The fear you might be feeling right now largely comes from the disconnect between what you expected before and what your current reality is.
6. It is counterproductive to make excuses as to why you aren’t where you thought you’d be. Rather, focus on what you can do right now that can help you see that you still have so much to live for.
7. The unexpected is all part of life. Everything you didn’t expect to happen in the past was there to teach you that life won’t go as planned and while you may feel helpless about it, it shouldn’t prevent you from focusing on what you do best and doing what brings you most joy, no matter what you’ve gone through. Nothing worthwhile ever gets done when you wear your victimhood and self-pity like badges of honor.
8. Thinking too much about how your life’s trajectory looks to other people will only make you stew in discouragement and despair, and you’ll lose sight of how much you’ve evolved because all that matters is that right now, you’re stronger and more aware of who you are, and nobody’s personal judgment of you can nullify the strength you have.
9. You’re doing really well in at least one thing right now. Your life is not the apocalyptic catastrophe that you’re making it out to be. And if anyone else is telling you that it is, that’s a toxic person you need to cut out of your life.
10. The weaknesses you still have right now aren’t sentencing you to a dead end. Your weaknesses won’t turn into strengths and if you feel guilty about it, you might want to check where the guilt is coming from. If the source isn’t relevant to who you are or your purpose in life, allow yourself to make peace with it and accept that you’ll never be completely strong in all areas, but that doesn’t make you any less worthy than someone who seems to be strong in everything.
11. Life is more complex and more difficult than your past self once believed, but that shouldn’t discourage you from persevering and freeing yourself from the limitations that distress you.
12. If society’s milestones are giving you tremendous pressure, then that’s a warning sign that they aren’t right for you and you need to redirect yourself towards milestones that really are right for you, even when they do not give you an ego boost or the sense of validation that you were hoping to earn from certain people who failed to see your potential.
13. Sometimes you can give everything you’ve got and still fail to get what you thought you were qualified for because someone else didn’t see your worth and saw worth in another competitor. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you have to throw in the towel. Sometimes, things don’t work out in our favor and there’s not always a clear or sensible reason, but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to put in your best effort.
14. If you’re unhappy with how your life turned out, it’s probably because over the years, you have been motivated by the fear of scarcity more than anything else, but now is the time to cultivate a mindset of abundance and nurture your gifts even when nobody else sees them. You owe it to yourself to create, not to destroy, who you are. If life gets tougher on you, the worst thing to do is to cave into the terror and give up on yourself. The best thing to do is to believe in yourself and your own abilities, no matter how many times you’re told “no.”
15. The biggest reason why you might not be where you want to be is that you’re spending too much time saying “no” to yourself, in response to other people’s disapproval of you. Maybe right now, you really need to make a specific plan to create a fulfilling life for yourself and take the very first step today.
16. If you think you need to be more productive and do better work, you’re probably right, but if you think that out of a place of self-loathing and inferiority, you’re going to get the result that’s the opposite of what you want. But you also can’t force yourself to give yourself the warm and fuzzy love if you genuinely aren’t feeling it. Instead, learn to look at yourself objectively and know that you are a work-in-progress with room for improvement.
17. You might be wasting your life trying to fix something that you thought was your biggest flaw, and in the process, you lost sight of your biggest strengths. Take your current dissatisfaction as a sign that you need to switch directions – maybe not instantaneously, but if you make it your top priority, it will happen over time.
18. Disappointments and tough luck are to be expected. You might still hate how much you’ve been holding yourself back or how others have undermined your potential, but when you focus too much on that, you won’t get to where you want to be. There’s still time to change and build yourself up in a way that empowers you and reveals what you’re meant to do.
19. If you feel uncertain right now, take that as a good sign. You’re questioning everything that you’ve been taught, especially all the things that other people taught would guarantee happiness and security. But nothing is guaranteed. You’re becoming more of who you’re meant to be and you’re at the beginning of something new and unknown.
20. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s been going on and everything that you’re afraid of, please allow yourself to rest and enjoy it fully. You can’t know where you want to go without some honest self-evaluation and deep reflection. Even if you don’t think you “deserve it,” you do. How else are you going to heal or strengthen yourself?
21. Others are where they are and that is fine. You are where you are and that is also fine. Whether other people are ahead of you or behind you makes no difference in your life because your life is yours and you can only live in the most liberating way possible, regardless of any social standard or someone else’s arbitrary assessment.