Big goals are exciting. They give life purpose and a sense of adventure. Naturally, I imagined I’d conquer most of those (okay, all) just in time for my 30th birthday. Career game-changer, marriage, home ownership, global jet-setter – check, check, check, and check.
Or, not quite. I’m in some version of progress on several of my goals, but I have yet to master any domain.
I could spend most of my time, chin in hand, bowl of ice cream in the other, bemoaning my unasked for detour. But instead, I found my current position in life provides room for ample insight.
Gratitude for the friends I made along the way.
Whenever I think I’ve wasted my time, I simply rattle off the names of friends my extended detour gifted me. These are the people whose laughter, guidance and support shaped me in those pivotal post-college years. The friends who shared my ambitions and anxiety, listened to my breakup stories, and encourage me to chase my dreams. I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include these amazing people.
Realization that new experiences add breadth.
The great thing about making friends is the inevitable exposure to art, history, culture, politics, and ideas from different backgrounds. These encounters not only made me a more compassionate person, but also a better listener. It’s easy to read a few articles and think we’ve mastered a subject, but I often find there’s always more to learn and I’ve come to be open to those moments. If that wasn’t enough, my friends also gave me a greater appreciation for the magnitude of untold stories that now informs my work.
Social media envy is a dead end.
Scroll through any social media site and you’ll soon find yourself cataloguing all the ways in which everyone’s life is better than yours. Perhaps your college roommate is on chapter 20, while you’re pushing through your chapter 12. But maybe chapter 20 is a drag, despite the photographic evidence to the contrary. As a good friend once told me, he and his partner take photos when smiling, not arguing. Comparisons serve only to teach us we’re unworthy of our own destinations or else we’d be there already. So next time a bout comes on, send your roommate some love and don’t forget to count the battles you’ve already won!
Recognition of what truly matters.
In my twenties, I dreamt of external things: accolades and applause. In my thirties, I preferred peace of mind, stability, and healthy relationships. I received kudos and awards in the past, but the trouble is, they last for a moment and then you’re off in search of another one just like it. Learning to define myself and make choices based on my values rather than social status allows me to enjoy the journey with fewer judgments.
Comedienne Leslie Jones, who came to acclaim in her forties, is on to something when she reminds us all that there’s no age-limit on our goals. So don’t fret if your goal list doesn’t have enough check marks on it. You’ll still receive awesome and life-changing gifts along the way – and that’s what the journey is actually about.