Embarking on my journey of academic and career development has led me to partake in an undergraduate industrial placement scheme, serving as a taster into life post university.
My most prominent discovery so far: I have no life.
I am certain in my belief that this mantra is tattooed in the forefront of my brain with check-boxes awaiting approval from the very loving and caring parents who instilled these principles in me from a tender young age.
My days have been spent (in some cases) sleep deprived, migraine prone and work laden, dressed up in bottomless eye bags and a coat of worry; even when things weren’t this extreme, I was constantly anxious about these unchecked boxes and the absence of a plan that would bring me closer to completion.
I write this for the person so engrossed in building a successful future, whether to please themselves or to make their parents proud, that they forget to revel in the pleasures of the present.
Earlier on I expressed that my current situation has revealed to me that I have no life, here’s why:
2016 has been an interesting year for me; I have achieved a lot of personal goals without experiencing much personal fulfilment. I spent a lot of years working towards things that came to fruition within a short period, suddenly leaving me feeling empty and without much purpose. It can be easy to overlook such feelings in a university environment when your daily schedule is constantly changing and you’re overwhelmed with work; but now, having developed a daily routine that gives me excessive thinking time, my inability to function without working towards some form of long term goal has become insanely apparent. I am uncomfortable being present without something to strive for that will forever seem so far fetched and unattainable that I can bury myself in an endless struggle.
This relates slightly to my post Sad About Success– we need to learn to make everything we do in a life an enjoyable experience, so that even if we don’t get it, or the result is not what we expected, we don’t feel as though we have lost a major investment.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”― Henry David Thoreau
My advice is not to stop working towards your goals and live each day recklessly like it’s your last. But ultimately you need to be able to enjoy the journey because you can’t guarantee that you will like the destination. This doesn’t always mean finding a hobby (I know how hard this can be), sometimes it just requires you to develop a mindset of appreciation for yourself, that takes the pressure off your life goals and makes you feel content each day.
Balance is key
At this age, I often hear many friends talking about their life plans: the type of house they want to live in, the kind of car they want to drive and how many zeros they want to see in their bank account. The problem is that for many striving towards what they deem to be a prosperous future, they fall into a state of obsession, leading to extreme stress and in some unfortunate cases: depression. This happens to many at this stage in their life because they begin to feel as though time is running out and they aren’t any closer to reaching their goals: they don’t have any practical plans, they lack opportunities, factors concerning their future don’t seem optimistic etc. This is common, especially for penultimate and final year students, but it isn’t okay.
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” – Proverbs 27 v 1
Here’s what this scripture means to me:
Tomorrow is important, but it isn’t promised, so don’t let it consume you.
Try not to put your hopes for future happiness in what you wish to have but who you wish to be. It sounds cliché to tell you not to be materialistic, but I would rather be known for being rich in character than rich in possessions.
Also, remember that you do have time to accomplish your goals.
Being where you are right now, simply being concerned about your future and attempting to make plans towards it means that you are on the right track. Have confidence in your abilities, your skill and most importantly in your passion.
Enjoy today, for “Forever is composed of nows”- Emily Dickinson