Can one ever reach their potential? And if they do, how do they know?
It’s one of life’s biggest questions that people find themselves asking far too often: how do we measure success? Do we do this through happiness, popularity, experiences? How successful do you have to feel in order to say you’ve reached your potential? And once you do, what comes next? These are all questions that will probably never be answered to the fullest, but perhaps that means that a new question needs to be presented.
I wish I could write an article and title is “X Steps To Become Successful,” but the harsh reality that I’ve come to realize is that there isn’t a recipe or how-to because everybody has a different journey to success.
Life is often presented to us as this journey where we find our passion(s), get to know ourselves and explore the world we live in. We are expected to learn about the world and our place within it, and once we’ve found that, we equate it to success and satisfaction. We are taught about this in films, literature, and even music, where we are introduced to characters who, for some reason, are so aware of when they have fully discovered who they are and their passion(s).
People tend to wait for those big cinematic moments where they realize their “calling” or experience something life-altering, hoping that the end credits are soon to follow. In reality, this is not the case; we rarely even know when we are having these moments, but for some reason, we spend so much time searching for moments where we reach our potential. If we knew when we reached our potential, what would that mean for the rest of our lives? Would we plan things differently or dare I say, stop living?
What’s often left behind the scenes is how the journey to finding ourselves is a never-ending cycle. We need to stop looking for a beginning and end to the journey of self-discovery and stop being so expectant of those movie moments because it hinders our ability to fully embrace them. In this era of knowledge, creativity, and technology, we know so much because we are constantly exposed to information about ourselves; I argue that we are too self-aware.
Part of not knowing what’s next is frightening, but there’s a whole other exciting side to not knowing what’s next. Wondering what’s to follow and trying to even imagine being able to top your favorite memories is thrilling. Today, your favorite meal may be spaghetti and meatballs, but in ten years, what if you’re a vegetarian? How we see the world can change within years, months, days, even minutes, and that’s completely natural. But part of getting to know yourself and where you fit in the world may mean that you need to step out of your comfort zone and accept change—don’t look at your personality as malleable, and instead, see it as something that has depth and complexity.
Upon thinking that you have discovered and reached your potential, what’s next is to move on and be free. Because “what’s next” is probably when you actually reach your potential, and you won’t even know it. Our “potential” gets higher and higher over time, and in order to fully embrace that, maybe it means trying to stop labeling when you’ve reached your potential.
“What’s next” is to keep on living and stop searching for something that’s meant to find you.