Being in the age of late teens or early twenties, we tend to idealize our lives by planning out various future careers and aspirations. Most of us assume the start of a decade (the age of 20, 30, 40) as a turning point in life that we have to prepare ourselves for.
“I have to do this and this before I turn 20!”
“I have to celebrate the biggest birthday bash ever before I turn 20! Being sweet-17 is a once in a lifetime experience, anyway!” (In Indonesia, it’s sweet 17 instead of sweet 16)
“I have to get married before I turn 30” or “I have to be pregnant with a baby girl before I turn 30”
or a very complicated one:
“I have to graduate university with a summa-cumlaude, continue my education abroad as a graduate student, get a husband/wife, be married with an Alice in Wonderland theme, have exactly 2 kids (a boy and a girl), have a successful business joint… before the age of 30, of course!”
and the most popular one: “I have to be successful before I turn 30.. or 40 at least!”
One famous pastor, who leads a massive protestant family-owned church all over Indonesia, once propagandized the term “Before 30”. Technically, he motivated adolescents to become successful while still being loyal towards Jesus/God/Holy Spirit before they even turn 30 (No offence, but this “Before 30” thing is coming from a privileged, wealthy pastor whose clothes might be 4 times your monthly salary). Forbes, the finance magazine, has the famous list of “30 Under 30” — a list of 30 successful people who haven’t even reached the age of 30 yet. Most of business students in every business schools available are told to be “successful young entrepreneurs” by their educators. Of course, all of these are great motivations for young people.
But sometimes, these urges to achieve success in such a short period of time can be highly discouraging. You might easily give up when seeing your friends achieve success first, although you are almost at your point of success too. When you compete, you can’t help but feel dispirited when the other person is one step ahead of you. And just like that, you will most likely compare yourself with other people, disregarding the fact that everyone is not the same. (That’s why I hate having to compete.. this thinking doesn’t really help me with anything, considering that I major in business, in which we have always been told that business = competition). Since everyone’s different, success also varies for everyone. Some might equalize success with getting a wealthy husband, and that’s entirely okay. Some might think success as achieving millions of dollar, having 10 kids, or simply just getting their dream jobs. For me personally, I identify success with being happy with what I do, while also educate and make other people laugh. Currently, I’m not proud of what I’m doing and my dimmed presence saddens other people out instead of cheering them up — so, I’m still far from my own definition of success.
The early 20s is mostly the time when you get all of these ideas in your head about how you want to live your life, isn’t that true? As an archetype: if you are majoring in business, you obviously wish to work in a high-intensity corporate job, in a beautiful 9-to-5 corporate world. Nonetheless, when you have achieved your dream in such a young age, let’s say 24 years old, you might become doubtful about your true intentions in life and begin asking questions, “Now what?”. Sometimes when people have reached their goals, emptiness might suffocate them, making them feel lost halfway throughout their life journeys. Some might seek God as a refuge. Others might depend on alcohol, humor, or fake affection from people who don’t even love them back, just to fill up the hole. Therefore, it’s best said that life is a wholesome journey that each of us has the privilege to enjoy by taking one step at a time — it isn’t necessary to rush into things by trying to impress everyone but yourself. When you see other people having their time of their lives by being free of any financial responsibilities, you might think, “How nice it is to be like them — free of any economic, family, or mental struggles”. However, you have to believe in your own struggles that you have endured; they make you as the person you are today, strong and compassionate. Those struggles make your life worth something, whether you believe it or not. When life drags you down, remember that there are people out there who succeed long after they turn 30 or 40 years old (the famous designer Vera Wang, author J.K Rowling), and people who shift their life directions yet still succeed (the Malaysian singer Yuna, who becomes an international pop sensation although she took a degree in Law). Each of us has one different life to live, unless you believe in reincarnation. Even when we are actually reincarnated, we’ll just forget our past lives anyway. The main thing is that you are currently living this one life, thus there’s no need to compare yours with others’. And there’s no need to discourage others just because your life is better than theirs… We never know the struggle of a person, one might be having suicidal thoughts. So, why don’t we just spread a little kindness here and there..