We are a generation of leisure. A sorority of luxury. We treat our time as precious and take care to spend it on enriching experiences and fruitful endeavours. If something doesn’t excite and entice us, it is undeserving of our attention and if our efforts don’t reap an immediate reward, they’re wasted and worthless. We’re all driven to ride the high life of big dreamers and doers, moving through one incredible adventure after another in a relentless series of awe-inspiring episodes.
There’s a saying the life romantics among us love. ‘Live every day like its your last.’ And this go-getter’s philosophy echoes loud and strong in the media. Each headline or caption, a tale of the brave pursuit of happiness. The entrepreneur who ditched the mundane 9-5 to run a hip consultancy gig from a beach in Bali. The 22 year old who forwent the rickety career ladder climb to launch a best-selling product from their studio apartment. The social media sensation who travels the world on the dime of global brands to capture that perfect Instagram moment. All painting the life of success as beautifully picturesque and busy without a moment of boredom or dejection. They never bode their time. They never waited their turn. They never slept on it or second guessed the leap. They just went out and made the world their own.
The tune of these arias always end on the same inspiring note. ‘If you’re unhappy in your circumstance, change it.’ ‘Don’t suffer in dismay for the sake of a paycheck.’ ‘Don’t wait to make your dream a reality.’ And ‘don’t ever settle for a life you don’t love every day.’ Through reading these messages daily, we’re forced to look at our own reality, spot the moments we love least and acknowledge when we’re not always practicing our conquest to live like there’s no tomorrow. We see the gaps where there’s room for improvement and, truth be told, it’s a terrifying sight.
In many ways, this revelation ignites the fire it set out to alight. It’s a call to action that has us seeking and searching for ways to better our situation. But when that search turns frantic and desperate, it can also foster overwhelming feelings of anxiety. If we constantly live like we’re racing against the clock, our drive to succeed manifests out of fear and forces upon us irrational thoughts. We’re left questioning whether our best is ever enough as even the strongest motivation and greatest effort can’t keep inevitable lulls and dull periods at bay.
Because life is so often portrayed as a ticking time bomb, our fear of missing out is sometimes crippling. Every second that isn’t worthy of celebration is a lost chance and every unproductive minute, a failed opportunity. During those days when tasks aren’t ground-breaking and moments not transformative, it starts to feel as though life is being squandered away and that future prospects are slipping through our fingers.
But, if there’s only one thing that’s imperative of right now, it’s understanding that time is not working against you. Your chance to explore, experience and achieve has no deadline and next week, next month, even next year will still be there if you take care of yourself and make your way in your own time.
Sometimes, we don’t yet have the knowledge we need to make it where we want to go just yet. Sometimes we need to take the long road, with work and projects we don’t always enjoy and stages that are best looked at as ‘character building,’ in order to learn and discover enough about ourselves to forge success later. For the majority of us, that’s how life works. It is long. It is tiring and it’s not always going to feel busy, exciting and productive.
Success is rarely instantaneous or so straightforward as the way it’s captured in two dimensional snapshots. It takes patience, cultivation, disappointment. It requires sacrifice, compromise, mitigation and frustration that can often feel like backward steps. Even the most interesting of lives with the easiest pathway to the top come with chores, tasks and pitfalls that don’t make for click-worthy headlines. Nothing is ever as glamourous as it seems. Not even perfection.
The narrative of no tomorrow forges an expectation of life that is rarely matched by reality. It creates such an intense pressure to be constantly happy, to live a life with luxury in abundance and to be exploring our dreams every day that it magnifies the moments we aren’t and makes us hyper-aware of the times our journeys aren’t beautiful or conducive, dragging us further and further down. But if you let go of that fear and take the ups and downs of life as they come, you might just gain the clarity you need to start forging a path that brings you some wonderous moments of joy, however long and drawn out that journey may be. Time is not your enemy but your ally and the periods when it feels as though nothing is happening are not wasted or worthless but just a normal part of life. A necessary aspect for absolutely every worthwhile endeavor.
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