Celebrate the Journey
My five-year anniversary as a coordinator in academia arrived this month, and with it came a reality check. I graduated six years ago, and the goals I set out with are not the ones I have met since then. This can be a terrifying thing to realize, as though your ride in life took a detour and you only noticed at the end destination. The truth, however, is more complicated than that.
In uncertainty, in allowing room for the gray areas, I discovered that my goals had to evolve with my achievements and passions and self as I maneuvered through each day. When I began my journey, it was easier to think of it in a linear fashion – start here and end there. But life is not exactly linear, and neither are we. As a friend once brilliantly said to me, life is occurring in the margins, too. Perhaps we can learn more about ourselves, our journey, in those sidebars and in the unknown. To sift through experiences there is to also acknowledge that we are more than our highlight reels.
One not-so-secret is that witnessing the highlights of everyone else never gets easier. At 28, I find that while I am becoming more confident in my decisions and my path thus far, I compare my achievements to those my age just as much as I did six years ago.
That being said, I can still thrive in my gray areas if that is where I am. I am nuanced. I am fluid. I am layered.
Because here’s the thing: everything we set out for is achievable, but sometimes what is achievable is not what we need. If you’re like me, maybe you will spend a lot of your twenties navigating depression and anxiety and figuring how that fits into your mold of self, how these things affect your identity and life. If you’re like me, maybe you will undergo a major shift of perception and discover that to achieve anything at all, you must first dig out your buried self-worth. Perhaps you will learn that everything there is to gain in this life also reaches beyond goals and achievements and careers; sometimes the biggest successes are ones of the self. Or maybe you will ascertain new goals along your journey, unearth truths and locate paths that will take you somewhere unexpected.
Celebrate where you stand.
Whether you are assured in your present, questioning your future, or dismayed over your past, these mindsets provide you with questions worthy of answering. Where your feet are, where you are standing, no matter how steady or otherwise, is a starting place. Praise yourself for getting this far, and allow yourself the grace and patience to discover what’s next.
I have to trust myself enough to commit and be, to live in the gray. Because everything else can shift, can evolve, can develop beyond foresight and beyond my definition of success, acknowledging the whimsy is a good place to start the journey.
This life is more about the journey than the destination, anyway.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]