I am 27, unemployed and I live, rent free, with my parents. If you wanted, you could judge me based on that sentence. You could say many things about my work ethic or my character or anything else you may think you know based on those facts. Believe me I have done the same thing. There are times this fact pulls me down into a deep, Netflix binge-watching, depression. Times I worry about being a failure or lazy or a loser. Times when I think this fact is the sole definition of who I am. I know lots of people my age who feel defined by their current circumstances. They see their entire life encapsulated by one or two facts. Their weight, their marital status, their children, their paycheck, their job; all these things start to be the entire measure of their life. They compare their facts to their friends using unreliable sources like, Facebook, Instagram, or casual conversations. These comparisons usually leave them depressed or frustrated, causing them to harshly judge their own lives. But all this judging and over-emphasis on your current facts is unhealthy. It fails to show you the big picture. Where you are today is not who you are! It is just one piece of much larger and more complex puzzle. Remembering this can be a difficult task so here are 3 way to embrace your time of life.
Remember Who You Were
Unlike Athena none of us appeared full grown (and we definitely didn’t come out of someones forehead) with all the knowledge, wisdom and skills to accomplish anything and everything. Who we are is an amalgamation of everything we have learned and experienced in our lifetimes. It’s important to remember and embrace our past experiences, good or bad because they have contributed to who we are today. When people ask me “What I do.” I can’t say “I am a Captain in the Army.” But that doesn’t mean that being a Captain in the Army isn’t a part of who I am and how I do things. My watch is still on military time (it just makes sense). I still use lingo and acronyms on a daily basis (PT is exercise people!). And last year for Thanksgiving I wrote out a detailed plan, complete with individual assignments and a timetable for my family to follow. They teased me but for me it was the best way to accomplish our mission and it worked out fantastic! I no longer wear my uniform or plan missions or give orders but in my heart I am still part of the Army. You need to embrace your past experience, gain self-confidence from what you have accomplished in the past or from how far you have grown and changed. This will help you to see your current life in a new light and remind you that there is so much more to you then where you are right now.
Picture Who You Will Be
Looking into the past is great but I am sure most of you are concerned with your future. Maybe you have plans and goals for the next 5, 10, or 15 years and I think that is wonderful! Good for you! But I hope these plans are not the incredibly detailed kind. You don’t have a bullet point that says “Marry by the age of 30.” or “Have 3 children, 1 boy , 2 girls” or even “Become a Senator by age 40.” do you? Such specific timetables are sure to lead to disappointment and frustration. Predicting where life will take you is impossible (even for a TimeLord).
There are too many variables too many things that you can’t control. Instead of focusing on society approved milestones try creating goals that will improve your character. Imagine the best possible version of yourself and then create goals or mission statements that will help you BECOME that person. When you are working on becoming who you want to be it is a lot harder to get bogged down by where you are now.
Once you have reflected on your past and made goals for your future you need to continue to be motivated! Change and growth are long a difficult processes. There will be days when you will slip, become frustrated, and wonder if it’s all worth it. When this happens you need to find ways to maintain your focus. Some people find peace in exercise or meditation, some enjoy parties or escaping into a book or movie. Personally I like to surround myself with great quotes. I put them in every room in my house and on my computer and iPhone screens. I pin them or post them to Facebook or just put them in a Word document with other inspirational quotes. They lift me up and set me back on track. Find whatever works for you and use it to keep yourself energized and motivated about your direction in life. This is possibly the hardest step but absolutely the most important. One of the quotes I use to stay motivated is “Life is a lively process of becoming” by Douglas McArthur. It reminds me that my life is much more than a collection of facts. It encourages me to embrace my past experiences and how they have shaped who I am today. It challenges me to make goals and strive to become who I want to be. But most importantly it motivates me to stay positive and energized about my life. So the next time someone asks you “What are you up too?” and you feel discouraged or you jump on Facebook only to see all the depressingly fantastic success of your peers remember that you are so much more than bare facts or a status update. You are a work in progress, so embrace your time of life and focus on becoming.