I always knew that I would be successful, but I was unaware to what extent. It is one thing to know you’ll be fine, but often times we’d like to know the journey that takes us there. It is human nature. We fear the unknown. We like to think we have complete autonomy. Some of us, enjoy the adventure, while others become so occupied with what to do to get to the end of the journey- forgetting that life is about the journey itself.
I recently attended a Google event. The title of the program was “Purpose, Lead, Slay.” The panel consisted of four British black women who are all successful published authors. These women all worked in the corporate world dealing with racism, sexism, identity issues and knew there was more to what they were doing. On their individual paths, they decided to venture off and create platforms for black women. Although, I had never heard of these women, I found myself thankful to be in the room and to hear their stories. They shared their milestones, failures, fears. While listening to them, I saw that the common theme was being a workaholic. They all had moments where life forcefully had to slow them down because so much was happening. These women were very much proud of how much they’ve done, but they almost lost themselves in their careers. I immediately thought, “Mm girl, that is you.” I deeply resonated with this for many reasons. I know that I have specific goals and I have shamelessly set the bar high and expect to accomplish them by a certain age. If I am not working hard, then I am mentally scoping the next steps to take. It has gotten so bad that on my weekends, when I should be relaxing, I am very much dedicating time at the library for a few hours. To be completely honest, I left the panel asking myself, “What more can I do?” “What haven’t I done yet?” instead of taking some time to reflect on “Why are you in a rush to complete such goals?”
I’m sure there are people who are like me out there. The ones that are heavily focused on the pursuit no matter what. The ones who even feel guilty for relaxing when “there’s so much to do”. Yes, we all want to be successful, but people commit and sacrifice so much because of success. This is a problem. What happens after we pursue everything on our list? What would we have lost in the process? There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but ambition shouldn’t occupy our minds at every minute of the day. It is unhealthy. We’re all striving to be great, but is it at the cost of quality time with friends, family, and loved ones?
Sometimes, I think it is a combination of self- fulfilling prophecy and societal pressure to work hard. “If you work hard, you will get far in life,” which is not absolutely true. Everything is about “hustling hard” and being a “go- getter”. Life is funny, you know. You’ll plan your entire life and look back and realize, “I haven’t really lived.” I’m convinced we all know at least one person who works so hard, but doesn’t ever take a day off. We think it’s admirable until we find out that they experience some form of depression or anxiety. We forget that they too are human. It happens way too often.
So rather than racing to the top, there needs to be a shift in our thinking. Continue to make plans, prioritize and invest in the resources that will help. However, situations may occur and that might cause you to change your future plans. That is okay, too. We need to make room for personal growth, development and maturity. Perhaps, some goals have not been accomplished because you have not grown into the type of person you need to be. We always want to arrive and appear as if it was all overnight, but that’s not the end goal. This culture of instant gratification taunts and deceives so many people into thinking they are not where they should be. Racing to attain a certain status is tiring and unrealistic because you are not competing with anyone else. You are competing with yourself. At the same time, the road to attain that achievement is not linear or unidirectional. Let this serve as a reminder that you are where you need to be.
Life is to be enjoyed. Enjoying time with others, celebrating others’ successes and ours as well, appreciating the people who appreciate you regardless of what you’ve done. Take time to reflect and acknowledge that the path to where you are currently has taught you skills, given you experiences, and opened doors. Timing also matters. Some goals we want to accomplish will manifest at the appointed time. The idea of “arriving”, results in unnecessary pressure that turns into worries and fears. Remember striving to work too much or too hard is not what life is about. Life is not meant to be a long and suffering experience, nor is it supposed to be mundane. Success will happen when it is appointed to.
By: : Priscilla Brown
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