This weekend I had lunch with a couple of old friends of mine from Ocala. We caught up about each other’s current lives, and also reminisced about old stories. There’s nothing like being around people who have known you through multiple stages and locations of your life. I had a hard time believing how old we’ve all gotten. And I know that being in your mid-to-late twenties is not old-old, but it’s a ways older than we were when we started our friendships.
As we talked about all that has changed and the good parts of our lives, we also talked about frustrations. It seemed we all shared frustration in some way or another in spite of the good. I think the frustrations came from the pressures that society and social media place on us, as well as the pressures we place on ourselves.
Pressure to be farther along in our love life. Pressure to look a certain way. Pressure to be making more money. Pressure to have a better resume. Etc…
What makes these sorts of pressure points difficult is because sometimes we don’t have a lot of say in how our lives play out. Sure, there are ways of advancing in each of these areas, but playing by the rules and following procedure is never a sure bet that your results will be identical to someone else’s.
I call hitting your mid-twenties “Moving past the age of guarantees.” Throughout your life up until around then, you basically live by a system. If you do the assigned work in the same way as your peers, each year you will be rewarded by moving along grade by grade. Your work can be identical as well as your methods of completing the work. And you move right along with everyone else around you.
Then you finish school and you’re in the real world. And you try to use the same logic and play by the rules and do the same work. Yet, the results may not be the same as your peers now. For me, I’ve seen this to be true with my career. I don’t know why I had such a hard time getting my first job. And then I don’t know why, while I was doing well, it was taken from me. My methods were the same as others. My work ethic was the same as others. And I had a different outcome.
Maybe you feel the same way in your career. Or maybe you feel that way about your relationships, or lack of a relationship. I’ve been there, too. It’s not easy when you’re doing what you think is right and it doesn’t work out. It’s not fun when people tell you to do your best and your best isn’t good enough.
Sometimes there are areas in our lives that need adjustment, or maybe we need a change of scenery. But I don’t think there’s a set answer for these frustrations.
First off, I think that after college, parts of life just take longer. You start a job and aren’t immediately promoted or given a raise. It just takes longer. You don’t always graduate then start dating your future spouse. Sometimes you get in relationships that end unexpectedly. The list goes on. Things take longer. We have to accept that.
Second, I don’t know why we preach for everyone to be unique and true to themselves, and then turn around and hate when our lives look different than our peers. It’s easy to do, and I do it as well, but it’s pretty hypocritical. We are intensely diverse people who are each given our own lives. We’re so complex, it’s no wonder there are so many different stories. Why should our story be one that has already been told?
There’s no need here for clichés and cheesy comfort lines. You’ve already heard them all. I leave us with a challenge to embrace what makes our lives different than everyone else. And to be proud of what we have, not ashamed of what we don’t have. Just like Grandma’s cooking, good things take time. Your life is meant to be different, so let it be different.