By Stefanie Green
Life isn’t going your way? Join the club.
Do you feel like you are wasting your time? Do you believe you are on a different timeline than the people around you regarding your career or the time it takes to graduate? Join the club.
At one point or another, we've all been guilty of logging onto social media and immediately comparing our lives to other people's lives. Maybe a colleague announced their new position on LinkedIn or a friend from college posted pictures of their new house. Sometimes it might feel like everyone around you is accomplishing their goals and living out their dreams, and you feel stuck.
I could not return to college in the first semester of 2021 due to the lockdown during COVID. I had so many plans, and nothing seemed to work out, and it was hard seeing my friends return to school without me. I was nervous that I would fall behind and wouldn't be able to graduate on time. I had envisioned getting my degree in four years and graduating with my classmates. But instead, I took some online classes, worked hard that semester, and caught up. And several of my classmates had taken time off during Covid or had changed their majors, which pushed back their graduation dates. Finally, I realized that completing my degree in four years wasn't realistic for me, and that was not so bad after all.
So, how did I go from panic to a real direction? These are a few ideas I used to recreate my path to success in my career.
Understanding Your Unique Timeline
Various factors can impact the speed at which we can actualize our dreams. An example of some possible factors are:
Major life events
Career or degree transformations
These factors affected everyone during the pandemic. Maybe you needed to take a gap year in college to work and save money, or you had to become a sick parent's primary caregiver and provider. Covid-19 was an unexpected event in everyone's lives. It set weddings and graduations and our personal lives on hold. There was no way of knowing when life would return to normal.
When circumstances are out of our control, it can feel isolating and make us nervous. I learned that it's important to remember that every person has moments in their lives when things do not go as planned, and you are not alone. It's not your fault how the world put things on hold, but it's your responsibility to continue moving forward. Events can delay your progress, but with the right outlook, every situation could work in your favor, and you may find a better path along the way.
Life Is Not A Race
There is never a "right" age for marriage, buying a house, or even earning your master's degree; plus, those goals will likely not happen within the timeline you've created for yourself.
Understand this: Life isn't a race, but here is a little secret. Quiet the outside pressures for a moment and tell yourself that there is no need to justify your timeline to anyone else. Your path doesn't have to make sense to your mom, dad, or friends. Instead, start by focusing on YOUR goals and giving yourself the grace to accomplish them your way.
Missing the first semester of my sophomore year seemed like a roadblock in the timeline that I had created for myself in my head. In reality, the time spent away from school allowed me to recharge, refocus and take the time to research the major I chose and become secure in that decision. When I look back, it was not wasted time at all.
The roadblocks you face in your life do not define who you are. Oprah Winfrey was fired multiple times before she became one of television’s highest-paid entertainers. Vera Wang did not design her first dress until she was 40. John Krasinski had little money and worked as a waiter before landing his role on The Office. Countless other individuals failed to follow their original timelines but ended up in better places than they could have imagined because of it.
Everyone moves through life at their own pace, and you are no exception!