One of the hardest transitions from childhood to adulthood is how our lives are structured. In my own personal experience, certain markers showed whether you had “made it” or not. Something like advancing to the next school grade, passing the test, getting first chair in all state band, etc. While all of these things involve productive and positive people, treating them as arrival points can be misleading. I cannot tell you the amount of tests I took in high school where I crammed and passed the test, thinking “I’ll never need to use that information again”, and simply forgetting what I had (sorta) learned. Or that I happened to be the best person at a task that day in my grade, in that year, at that school….. (you see the point?), and thinking to myself, oh I must be superior at this.
In college, it can feel the same way. Here are a set of credits and tasks you much match up to, once you do them you have passed and here’s the degree. Maybe its once you land your first job, or buy your first car or house.
But does anything in life really reflect these arrival points as the be all and end all of success? This reward structure, while enticing and clear, can make one feel lost once the carrot is no longer in plain view. Suddenly, once we have everything we should want, we have to make our own carrot. Now, this is the scary part: what if this carrot we make for ourselves can never be caught?
It is the acceptance that life is a continuous cycle of milestones and failures, that using one thing (I must get THIS to be happy, nothing else will do) may cause more unhappiness than needed. Perhaps focusing on larger developmental goals, like being honest, curious, and persistent, will lead to a more fulfilling way to navigate our path. While you may never “arrive” to what you originally set out to do, at least you know you gave it your best and most honest shot. And that’s the most you can do.