Set your own pace, not society’s

|     Raihanah Syahirah     |

NEW York is three hours ahead of California, but that doesn’t make California slow. Someone graduated at the age of 22, but waited five years before securing a good job. Someone became a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at 25, and died at 50. While another became a CEO at 50, and lived up to 90 years. Someone is still single, while someone else got married. Obama retired at 55, while Trump started at 70. Everyone in this world works based on their time zone. People around you might seem to be ahead of you, and some might seem to be behind you. But everyone is running their own race. In their own time. Do not envy them and do not mock them. They are in their time zone, and you are in yours. Life is about waiting for the right time to act. So relax. You’re not late. You’re not early. You are very much on time.”

My sister posted this on her status on social media the other day and I can’t help but feel this on another level. The post was on point.

Like Halsey’s verse in the song Eastside, “and then, oh, suddenly, we turn 23, now we got pressure for taking our life seriously.”

I’m in my mid-20s and I would like to share my experience. I would like to stress this as an issue we’re facing today, and that’s how to be comfortable in your own pace as opposed to society’s expectation.

I recently stepped down from a profession that I figure, if you knew what it was, you would consider me irresponsible and going out of my mind.

I mean, imagine, quitting a well-paid job.

People who don’t know me will immediately assume that I made a rash decision. They said the amount of money I earned for that job was considerably a lot for someone my age and that I would be lucky if I get that salary again.

I thought I made a wise decision leaving the profession, after pondering over it for a month.

Alas, society never failed to make me doubt my own decisions, even after it’s been made.

To me, my action was for all the right reasons.

Because over time, I realised I wasn’t happy with what I was holding on to. I took a course on Travel and Tourism, and someone quite significant in the tourism industry once told me, “You should not work for money. You should work for your passion. Because passion is the only thing that will make any job work, and fun.”

Why do you think, somewhere out there, a 40-year-old is making latte art in a Starbucks cafe right now? Or maybe a 19-year-old freelancing make-up services? Passion.

Because passion is what makes dreams work.

It may have taken me a long time to close that upsetting chapter of my life, but looking back now, I’m glad I did what I did and moved forward.

All our lives, we were taught to be successful even from a young age, as if failing is a forbidden act.

Most of us have a fear for failing because most of us were educated to build, but never to rebuild when everything was destroyed.

Life is already full of heartaches and disappointments, and the last thing we need is someone making us feel bad about the decisions we made.

In Brunei, you can be a 17-year-old with a scholarship from the United

Kingdom (UK) or a college graduate with a Master’s degree by 26, and still unemployed.

Lisa Kudrow of the popular television series Friends once said, “The 20s, they are that time in your life when you’re really getting acquainted to self-doubt when there’s so much seemingly at stake. So, let me reassure you. It’s not supposed to be easy. You’re supposed to have moments of uncertainty about which path to take, because the 20s are full of crossroads. When one door closes, another door always opens. It really does.”

Don’t try to fit into society or reform oneself in order to make an impact. Society may have a different opinion, but I think the 20s is the time to immerse yourself into. Explore yourself. Have stories to tell, not stuffs to show. The most courageous act is being able to think aloud for yourself.

So whether you’re a graduate who is working part-time in a grocery store or a 28-year-old mother of five striving for that Bachelor’s degree, I hope you’re aware you’re nothing less than potentially what you could’ve been doing at the moment. Don’t rush or wonder ‘what ifs’ for what you have to settle for now. You are on time. You are where you’re supposed to be.

You are at the right pace.

Set up boundaries. Talk. Listen.

Society doesn’t have to like or support who you wish to be.

Don’t let society manipulate you.

“No one should make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt