This Is Your Story

Want to really piss off a millennial? Ask them “What did you think your adult life would be like growing up?”
Want to have a full-on existential crisis? Truly and sincerely listen to the answers– and wonder if you haven’t forgotten being that pissed off once too.

Sorry about that. Let me make it up to you by sharing a comforting truth- success is relative, and how it looks is up to you.

In what ways? Pick a way. Generation after generation of our culture has tried to put walls and fences around success. We like lists and frameworks that can be easily understood, so for a lot of us our parents were raised (and subsequently raised us with) a checklist of what it means to be successful:

  • Get married once and stay married forever.
  • Have 1.5 children.
  • Own a house that you live in happily, keep immaculately, and is the envy of all your neighbors.
  • Be skinny, tan, muscular, sexy, but modest and without putting on airs.
  • Own your own business that will always be prosperous and never fail ever.
  • (Insert any number of other requirements based on assigned gender, gender presentation, race, nationality, social class, and the way leaves fall off a specific tree in Pago Pago.)

This is all, of course, objectively bullshit. It’s the agreed-upon dream though. It’s what’s normal, the ideal. If you can’t have/do it all, there’s clearly something wrong with you and you just need to hustle harder, think positive, quit being such a quitter, and go buy some more protein shakes and day planners.

Some time ago, I was talking to a coworker of mine before our shift at the bakery and she was in tears from frustration and stress. I asked her why:

“Everything sucks and it’s all so hard. My husband and I fight, and my family keeps telling me our marriage won’t last because we got married too young. I’m 26, and I’m working in a job I love, and I love my husband, but I feel like I’m working so hard just to fail. We lost our apartment and had to move in with my parents. I’m 26, and I thought I’d have this all worked out by now. I’m doing my best but feel like a failure.”

I feel like plenty of people who read my blog feel her pain reading that. A few folks might laugh at how ridiculous it is that she thought “everything would be worked out” by age 26, and casually forget how they might have convinced themselves or others how important that same list of requirements was. Very few might be reading her problem and want to go on a tirade about “entitlement” and “life isn’t fair.” I cordially invite those readers to shut off their browsers, reach behind them, and remove their heads from their asses.

Two More Truths

There is no tasklist for being successful. There is no required timeline. What’s more, you have both more AND less time than you think.

Think about that for a second. How can you have both more and less time than you think? It’s because the following two truths are not mutually exclusive:

1. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and the moment you die will likely feel exactly like this one.

2. It’s never too late to do the things that make you happy.

The idea that you only have so much time or until a certain age to “make it” or “succeed” has been empirically proven wrong over and over again. People start their dream businesses in their 50s. They publish their most famous works in their 60s. You have more time than you think.

BUT… you never know what tomorrow will bring. Someday in the future you will die and “run out of time” in any functional sense. Therefore, you have more time than you think… but you have no idea just how much that is.

This Is Your Story

My life is in no way all figured out, all together, all worked out, or all anything. What I KNOW I’m working toward though is finding ways to make my life more about enjoying what I do and wasting as little time on things that I don’t. That includes giving energy to people who want to insist I follow their schedule or timetable of success.

I’ll get there when I get there, and I’ll be doing my best to have a good time on the way. So should you.

Stay Classy,

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