Ageing is a natural part of life but it seems the older we get, the more we try to fight it. As a young child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. In hindsight, I realised it was because of a misconception that being an adult meant that you had it all figured out. By the time I got to realise just how wildly inaccurate I was, I was already a whole gown up.
I once read this thread on the most common misconceptions people had about adulthood as kids, and it was hilarious to me because I could relate to most of them. Simple stuff like; believing adults don’t cry; adults are naturally early birds who loved going to work every day; adults love their jobs; grown-ups don’t have to answer to anybody and can do whatever they want to; grown-ups have all the answers. All these misconceptions made being an adult “awesome” in the eyes of a child.
All you think about is how, after finally completing years of school and your studies, you’ll get your dream job and subsequently live your dream life. You may even have gone as far as envisioning the exact age you will be. You probably had this confidence that you would have it all figured out, like an adult. But none of these things are automatic. You finally grow up, reality kicks in and you realise being an adult is not a walk in the park, in fact, it’s a jungle out there.
In the pursuit of success, it often takes time for things to fall into place, leading to frustration, especially if we have to witness our peers getting ahead faster. We fall into that trap of envy when we see things we wish for ourselves happen to others instead. But that’s just the thing, everybody seems happily content with their perfect lives if you go by what you see on social media. We see the highlight reels carefully packaged for the world and try to compare our real lives to that, when for all you know, you are competing with someone who is still getting financial support from their parents, or has no responsibilities like kids or family members to care for. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to someone who took shortcuts along the way. It’s almost as if we deliberately put ourselves at a disadvantage with these comparisons.
“If you compete with others, you become bitter, if you compete with yourself, you become better.” - Unknown
Many of us don’t enjoy adulthood when we finally do get there, and that’s because of all these ridiculous expectations like making it in a certain way, at a certain age, with a certain partner etc. This births the fear of ageing, especially when you realize life cares nought about your expectations. With each passing year, birthdays become a marker we use to stop and take stock of where we are in life. Be mindful of this mental seed you planted as a child, with an understandably skewed perspective of the world and how life works.
I don’t know who lied to us, but we were never supposed to get through life at a uniform pace or reach a certain milestone at the same time. Our individual circumstances are unique to each, therefore, this is practically impossible. Focus on yourself without comparing yourself to others. Be patient and work hard. It’s OK to step on a few thorns here and there, remember nobody has it all figured out.
Paula Christoph’s column concentrates on positive and inspirational write-ups every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.