REMINDER: YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT
Honesty time: I am hard on myself. Really, really hard on myself. Like many of us who have grown up incubated in a society with its eyes on social media, I am guilty of perennial self-comparison coupled with an insatiable need for instant gratification. This affects my day to day life by making me think that I need to be perfect and that if I'm not at the top of my game, right here, right now, I never will be.
I live in a world in which the teenagers on my Instagram feed - fresh out of middle school - are signing six-figure deals with luxury brands, getting interviewed by magazines, directing campaigns, and being lauded for their political opinions. What hurts most of all, perhaps, is the notion that because this is 2017 and they most likely found success online, that they are 'self-made' and therefore somehow more deserving of success than I am. Because we frame social media as a utopian virtual democracy, we subconsciously seem to operate on the fallacy that working hard directly translates to achievement.
Looking towards the end of the year (can you believe it's almost 2018?), it is easy to look back at the months gone by and kick yourself for not doing 'enough.' Not working out enough, not studying enough, not making enough art, not getting enough likes. But 'enough' is a myth - it means something else entirely to different people, in different moods, at different times in their lives.
'Enough' is also a myth because so often, we are guilty of defining it incorrectly. Personally, I have spent so much time attaching it to achieving recognition and success in my career, or more than that, being 'the best' at what I do for my age. I am prone to jealousy, which I blame on being a Taurus, and this jealousy is usually a catalyst for self-loathing, in which I fault myself for not having what someone else has, whether that's their ideas, their body, their personality, or their 'standing' in the industry. Instead of seeing 'enough' as a measure of my emotional wellbeing, I associate it with a criteria of superficial goals that, if I'm honest, are as in flux as I am.
I am nineteen and I spend time, everyday, angry at myself for falling behind where I want to be in life. Slowly but surely, I am trying to train myself to understand that you can't have it all, least of all right now. At 19, most of the prolific writers, artists, and photographers who I look up to hadn't yet found their voice and were still in the formative phases of their creative journeys. Steve Jobs was 42 and had helmed multiple failed companies before the Mac really took off. Likewise, there are any number of child prodigies who have reached their prime and burned out too quickly by their mid-20s. The preciousness with which we treat successful young people can be damaging and, moreover, it reifies a belief in the superiority of youth. It is essential to remind ourselves that the more experiences we collect (which can only happen with the passage of time), the more informed we are, the more we know, and the more practiced we are. Maybe some people are pretty fruit that ripen quickly, and some of us are wine that needs time to age.
Ultimately, as the year narrows to an end, don't feel badly for not being where you saw yourself at this point. If life was that predictable, we would never get better. What would be the point in challenging yourself or trying something new if you already knew the outcome? In the immortal words of Miley Cyrus and her iconic 2009 single, "it's not about how fast I make it, it's not about what's waiting on the other side. It's the climb." By the end of next year, I hope that I've learned to stop fixating on where I think I should be going, and wholeheartedly appreciate being in the present.