Time. It surrounds us all, a concept that controls each and every one of our lives. It’s a concept that we use daily to measure some of the most simplistic things such as how long your food may need in the oven, to when we need to wake up and go to sleep. Without even realising it, we our born into a world that is measured with time; but should we be using time to measure our individual lives?
Each birthday we celebrate, time has taken another year of each of our unique lives. We get older, we get wiser, we change and may even get piercing or two. As these years pass and the teenage years begin to fade, we all face one of the most challenging phases of our lives; adulthood. During this fundamental transition into the world of being an adult, we set goals to what we want to become and begin to fully develop our identities as individuals. We all walk our own paths whether this be going straight into work, exploring the world or settling into “freshers week” straight out of college. In a modern world where social media is the norm, we get to watch each of our friend’s journeys through this transition of life, each following their own timelines and reaching their own goals. In watching the story of our friends lives and seeing their successes, we may start to question why we may not be reaching similar milestones and goals at the same time as them. In comparing your own timeline to someone else’s you will begin to rob yourself of the joy that is the experience of life.
Each of us is aware that comparing ourselves to someone else will always lead to a feeling of failure or the idea that we must be doing something wrong. I know this feeling myself and constantly used to have the question “did I do the right thing?” racing around my mind. My own personal experience found me finishing exams at sixth form and taking a gap year to work full time in retail, to fund an experience of a lifetime the following summer as a camp counsellor in the USA. Throughout my gap year, I watched many of my close friends leave for university across the UK to start the new chapters of their lives. I watched them experience new things, meet new people and grow as the individuals they are. I watched all of this unfold whilst I was spending 5 days a week asking the same customers if they would like a bag with their shopping, whilst rarely exploring anywhere else out of my hometown.
When I left college, I had no idea at all with what I wanted to do with my life and the career path that I wanted to take. I felt like I was lost within the world, starting to believe I did not have a path to take like the rest of my friends. All I knew is that I was going to be going to the other side of the world for a few months with no idea what life beyond that looked like. I was lost! After months of grinding away at work watching my friends move froward in life, all my hard hours paid off and I jumped on the plane to the other side of the world to where my life changed completely. I finally got to meet new people whom some of which I now consider family, I got to experience an entire new way of living and see things that my small seaside hometown didn’t have to offer daily. It was here at this new chapter in my life, I got to have my eureka moment and found my passion for working with kids, I finally started to feel like my path appeared.
On returning home, I signed up for my degree and chose to push myself into a career of teaching. I was still comparing the fact that I would be achieving my degree a year later than my friends, but I was finally happy knowing that I had finally started walking my path. This was the moment where I stopped comparing my timeline to others and started celebrating my life for what it was! I began to realise that life wasn’t defined by time, because we all use time in our own ways, just because somebody else reached a milestone before me, that did not make my self-worth any less than theirs.
For anyone who is feeling the pressure of time because you are comparing yourself to how well it seems others are doing, I ask you to do one thing. STOP. This moment right now? Its your time and you own it. Start to focus inwards and feel gratitude and generosity for the moments in your life that have happened so far. You may not know your path at this moment, and honestly you do not need to!
Life is an experience that plays out for all of us differently, each of us has different experiences that help guide us to the people that we are meant to become. Life is not a competition that is needed to be won. Life is an experience that should be lived with a heart full of love.
Right here, right now, stop comparing your timeline to someone else’s and start being unapologetically you. As cliché as it sounds, you only live once… so don’t take away that joy that you should be living everyday with.
By Levi Duffield