As you grow up, there are a few things that you learn that you should be doing. You learn to conform to certain gender roles and expectations. You learn that you have to go to school to get an education so you can get a good job. Sometimes you even learn to follow specific strict religious rules in order to save your soul. In theory, you know what to do to live a successful life. You understand that if you follow certain rules then certain things are supposed to happen. So what happens when you slowly start to realize that it’s not that simple?
It starts at a very young age, you notice that certain physical or mental characteristics make you different. You realize that the same rules that you thought were universal don’t apply to you if you’re a certain race , a certain height, a certain weight etc. You notice that some kids in your class are doing worse or better than you even though you are all doing the same assignment and learning the same things. You learn about individual differences but you still believe that you can still do everything right . You still have the basic understanding of what it takes to be happy right?
You grow older and you realize that you are not living up to your expectations. You feel pressured to achieve certain things by a certain age when it comes to your educational goal, career goals and relationship goals. Yet, You may find yourself dealing with heartbreak , physical/ mental health issues or unemployment. You may drop out of school or even get incarcerated. As a child however, you were never taught to expect so many obstacles. You did not necessarily learn to account for the unexpected.
The issue arises when you start comparing yourself to other people. You now realize that you are failing. Most of the expectations that you set for yourself based on societal standards are impossible to live up to. How can that be? You did what you were supposed to. Or did you? You start to look back at how you could have done things differently. The formula is so clear, if it didn’t yield the intended results, you must have not followed the directions properly. You realize that maybe you should have made some different choices. You start to pinpoint where things might have gone wrong in your life and you start to blame yourself for your lack of success.
You then remember that there were certain decisions that you didn’t get to make. You start to realize that there were often circumstances beyond your control. You also note that a lot of those things negatively impacted your life and may have lead to your current failures. You tell yourself that based on your experiences, you are ready to try again and do better since you now know better. After all , with age comes wisdom.
You attempt to make some personal changes that are meant to improve what you believe to be wrong in your life. You take the necessary steps but you keep failing while your peers following similar steps continue to thrive. You realize over and over again that you cannot follow a certain set of rules to get a specific result. There are too many factors that you cannot plan or control.
The lesson that you are meant to learn is that everyone has their own path to follow. It may take someone one try to get to their desired result but it may take you five. It seems that you’re expected to get back up again right away, whenever you fall. I believe that when you’re hit with the unexpected, it makes sense that you would feel discouraged and hopeless. However, the important thing is to try your best not to stay down too long. You still have the rest of your life to get it right. As long you keep trying, you will eventually win. It took me forever to face the reality that life doesn’t make sense. You just have to try to be resilient and your time will come.
” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr.