I’m gently approaching a milestone in terms of the number of years I’ve been alive which can be as significant or insignificant as you want to make it. Growing up, certain ages had associations in terms of what stage in your life you’d be at or what you should achieve by that point. I learned pretty early on that life doesn’t quite work in that way and my dear Gran continually reminded me that age is just a number and you’re only as old as you feel.
When I was studying languages I’d meet a wide range of people from all different backgrounds and interests. I’ve always been silently observant and enjoy people watching and taking everything in. In a class you could have someone at 18 joining for fun, someone at 40 taking part to learn the lingo to help when they spend time at their holiday home overseas and someone at 82 keeping themselves busy whilst enjoying their retirement. I met the most weird and wonderful people and always learned something from each of them. Most of all, I was inspired by the older generation learning something new in their later years and wondered if that is something I’d be brave or bold enough to do if I reach the same age they have. The answer is as unknown as when the current pandemic might end, I guess that’s they key message. Even if we plan for later years and with the best of intentions, nothing is guaranteed. Some people sadly don’t get the luxury of reaching certain milestones or have another day, another week or another year.
We navigate our way through the maze that is life in our own unique way. Sometimes we come up against hurdles or dead ends and have to unravel or take a step back to find a different path. There is no right or wrong way to go about it as each road leads to different opportunities or decisions we wouldn’t have encountered had we taken an alternate route.
Some people might seem like they have their whole life figured out. They might be married, with or without kids, hold down a great job, travel frequently and be able to treat themselves to the latest must have items or a swanky new car but underneath it all, the most important thing is whether they are satisfied. That’s not something you can put a price on or an age at which that becomes apparent. Some people are more satisfied at points in their life when they had less than what they have right now. Others don’t ever find satisfaction as they either settle for less than they deserve or they always want more or have a need to constantly feed their desire to be better or to hit the next milestone in their life or career. While it’s great to be motivated and to have goals or targets to achieve, it’s not the most important thing. We need to find contentment with what we have here and now and tomorrow is not a given.
They say comparison is the thief of joy and it’s an important point to keep in mind particularly nowadays with social media. There is more pressure than ever to compete or to keep up with what everyone else is doing. There are as many trends when it comes to day to day life as there are fashion trends and they come and go as quickly as each other.
Does it really matter if you buy a house or hit a career goal at 21 or 35 or 52? Absolutely not, what matters is how you feel and the sense of satisfaction you get when you do achieve something regardless of what it is. It’s often much more rewarding if you had to struggle or sacrifice or if it took time and dedication rather than if someone hands it to you on a plate or if you were chasing it for the wrong reasons.
With all of that in mind and as I approach this milestone, I’m trying to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on myself to feel a certain way. At the end of the day the sun will set and in the morning the sun will rise again. That’s pretty much all we can be sure of from one day to the next.