Of late, I’ve been dealing with a constant feeling of falling behind while everyone else is moving forward with their lives. I have been so overwhelmed by it that even while casually watching a TV series, I find myself subconsciously wondering how old a certain character is. And, in them, I try to find hope as they tread towards their dream job.
For instance, as I watched a random episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. recently, I found myself trying to reason out Rachel’s age. Rachel was still serving coffee at Central Perk in that particular season, but she does end up being successful in her dream career by the end of the series. If it was not too late for her at 28, is it too late for me at 22? What exactly qualifies as ‘too late’?
On days when I am not too occupied by all kinds of negative thoughts, I tell myself that my life is hardly over; that I should not compare myself with others because everyone has their own journeys. I think of how far I have come, and how I have changed as a person from what I was a year ago. I see growth.
But I still don’t feel at peace – something inside me tells me that my achievements aren’t big enough, that it’s too late, or that my small accomplishments have already been achieved by others well before me.
However, I also do try to see how I have started to take care of myself. I had many unhealthy habits just a year ago: I hardly ate proper meals, barely slept and was not physically active. My health was deteriorating. Today, I have a routine that I am able to follow on most days. I have lost some weight and am closer to my goal of living a healthier lifestyle.
A year ago, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. A year later, I am still not sure. The only difference is I am trying now, learning new skills, looking for opportunities and volunteering to do work that scares me. When I think of these things, I feel proud of myself.
But it lasts for only a few seconds.
My mind goes back to convincing myself that these are not real accomplishments; that when people around me are landing Rs 10 lakh per annum packages, my being able to get out of bed without feeling like I have no purpose is nothing to be proud of. When I confide in some friends, a few of them relate to what I say but I don’t think anyone fully does.
The question remains, who is my competition? Who made this clock that is supposedly running out of time?
I have found myself believing for the longest time that I do not want to participate in the rat race. But unwillingly and unknowingly, I have always been in the race. I guess we all are. But I would like to believe that we can take our own time to reach the finish line.
And that we should be the ones who decide what our finish line should be.
A year ago, I would not have done many things, including writing this article at 2 am. But as I write this, I like the person I am becoming. Analysis paralysis is what still stops me from doing most things, but I am getting there. And you will too.
Aishwarya Ghosh is pursuing her Master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. A literature student with a passion for marketing, she is currently trying to come to terms with the fact that she is responsible for her own happiness. You can find her on Instagram @aishwarya_ghosh_