We’re all so busy dealing with the responsibilities of adult life – careers, relationships, finances, remembering to go to the dentist. And yet, with everything I have on my plate, I still somehow manage to find hours of free time to obsess about all of the “should haves” in my life. For example, I should have a husband and 2.3 kids by now. I should have that corner office by the time I turn 30. I should have a lucrative amount of money in a diversified RRSP with annual returns… or something? And so on. Why do I think I should have all of these things? Because society (aka Instagram) tells me I should. To add to that, my anxiety-driven brain is constantly reminding me that life is insanely short and I have to accomplish as much as possible before I’m cremated, and I feel like I’m constantly running towards some kind of invisible finish line. I think it’s time to stop running. Why? Because nobody else in this race but me. These life deadlines do not exist. They’re invisible benchmarks that only I can see, and only I care about. Sometimes I tell myself that everybody else is judging me for not reaching these deadlines, but let’s be real – everyone else is too busy dealing with their own self-imposed deadlines to even notice mine.
There is no "Adulting Committee" monitoring our successes and telling us if we’re living our lives correctly. These are purely deadlines that I’ve created to put pressure on myself, and honestly the mental energy I spend worrying about them is getting exhausting. So, why do I find it so hard to let them go? There is a difference between a real deadline and a self-imposed one. Pay your rent by the first of the month = a real deadline. Have all your shit together by the age of 25 = a self-imposed deadline. Real deadlines are useful. Self-imposed deadlines are just stressful. There’s also a difference between a deadline and a goal. Goals can be a good thing – they motivate us to work towards better versions of ourselves. But goals should be personal decisions, not things pushed on us by outside forces and peer pressure. (No offense, Mom.) I’m learning that it’s okay not to move at the same pace as my friends or co-workers or Meghan Markle. (Nobody is Meghan Markle!) I’m not running the same race they are. They’re married, I’m not, and that’s fine because that just isn’t part of my journey right now. I didn’t get the job I applied for because it’s not the job I’m meant to have at this moment in my life. “Success is a journey, not a destination” is a quote that we’ve all seen on motivational cat posters at the doctor’s office, and while I used to roll my eyes at them, that quote now reminds me to appreciate where I am in the moment, rather than where I think I should be. I’ll get there when I get there, but for now, I’ll just enjoy the journey.
Written by: Crystal Wood