Recently I was listening to an old Waifs song called ‘people who think they can’. The lyrics go a little something like this…
People who think they can
I want to be just like those who think they can
I want to be
Not so far away
From where I planned to be by now
Time has a bad habit of flying
I was sleeping when it passed me by
I was dreaming of what I would wear when I go there.
With about 14 months until my Thirtieth Birthday (well to be precise 10,739 hours, 4 minutes and 55 seconds but who’s counting) this song struck a little cord with me.
Particularly the I want be not so far away from where I planned to be by now part. You start to think about such things a great deal when thirty is looming. There is something about thirty that is very intimidating. Maybe because it is the official end of youth. Once you hit thirty you are meant to be a proper bonafide grown up with it all figured out…right?
So where did I think I would be by now? Famous film director/novelist/male model inspector with huge mansion etc. When you are in your late teens and early twenties you have that wonderful blind optimism that there are lots of years to come and you will work it out later. But you’re sure you’ll get somewhere good. Your life plans consists of party, party, party, something, something, luxury yacht.
But what about the bits in between? I am coming to the realisation that I have had quite a lovely time in my twenties. Such a lovely time that I forgot to actually get where I planned to be by now. I forgot to write that novel. I forgot to start that business. I forgot to make that award winning film. But I DID remember to have a good time. I remembered to love and lose. I remembered to travel a bit. I remembered to get out of my comfort zone sometimes. I remembered to get a degree.
We tend to measure our own success against the success of those around us and I am surrounded by a lot of high achievers. My sister has a PHD in Marine Science, my step-sister is a Doctor, my best friend is an accomplished orchestral harpist, the list goes on. I also went to one of those schools whose graduates all seem to end up doctors and lawyers and models and architects in exotic cities.
That is the problem with Facebook. You think you can look at someone’s page and know all there is to know about them. What we forget is we only ever see what people want us to see. No one ever posts an Instagram picture of themselves fighting with their partner or panicking about their finances or applying Wartner. All we see is “look at me at the lovely party” or “look at my swish new apartment”. It gives us a very skewed idea of what other people’s lives are actually like. It leaves us with the feeling as we clean out the smelly bin that we are not quite measuring up.
We might see the post about someone’s fabulous new job but what we don’t see is the shit-kicking jobs, tears, hard-work and perseverance it may have taken them to get there. Also a lot of jobs sound good on paper but the day to day reality of carrying out that job is not so glamorous at all.
I guess it comes down to how you define success. It is money? Is it prestige? Is it a friend count? Is it feeling content? Is it feeling happy the majority of the time? Is it overseas holidays? Is it fame?
Well the truth is it is different for everyone. Success is whatever you want it to be. It’s about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. It’s not about whether other people look at you and go “oooo-eeerrr”. No matter what you do or where you are if you wake up in the morning dreading the start of the day then I don’t think that constitutes success. If you wake up with a spring in your step feeling good about where you’re at then you’re on the right track. Find what you enjoy, go with it and stop looking over your shoulder at what everyone else is doing.
When I’m old I think I’m going to be really glad that I smelled some flowers along the way. That I took some time to be young and stupid and irresponsible and lazy and crazy along the way. Now I am reaching that point where I am ready to knuckle down and start achieving my goals.
The problem is I have gotten quite used to my lazy crazy youth. So now begins the process of retraining myself to become a disciplined adult. I have cut out a lot of the boozing although I can probably credit aging with this (every hangover I have now lasts three days). I am eating well and exercising even though I used to throw chips at those kinds of people. And I have written myself a schedule tighter than a nun’s cooch.
I am getting there (mostly). Although I don’t see myself ever giving up cartoons.
Anyone got any more tips for me on how to be a super high-achieving grown-up? Or is there a pill that does that? That would be good.