Over the weekend a close friend of mine was broken up with by his girlfriend of a few months. This friend of mine has had a rough love life over his twenty two years of life, starting with being engaged at nineteen to a woman he'd known since his childhood, her cheating on him, and being in and out of short relationships for the last three years. I honestly feel for him, and though I disapprove of his drinking habits, I don't fault him for his desire for companionship. It got me thinking about my own life goals and how I've never been in a formal relationship before.
My friend and I realized that we are bombarded with the same messages in the media we consume: "Fall in love," "build a family," "own a home," "grow rich and successful..." it tends to get repetitive. This may be an unpopular opinion, but why do we need to feel pressured to do those things in the short time we have to experience the wonders of life? Life is short in the cosmic scale of things. By popular theory, the universe only began 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang, which means my friend has been alive for 0.000000001594% of the universe's lifespan. That's too small for us to really comprehend because, in our minds, 22 years is about a quarter of a life. We think in smaller values than the universe ever would; while we think in years and decades, the universe counts in eons and googols.
Even society counts itself in decades. For our older readers you may recall time periods such as the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. Society decided to name these time periods as such because it's how we can easily digest the thought of them. We as individuals count in days and weeks and months because it helps us mentally keep track of time. Ideals and concepts have changed with the times too, with each decade bringing new challenges, new beliefs, new identities, and more. Life as we know it evolves over time, and so does our societies. The way that the world is today is not at all like it was in 2010. Nor 2000 for that matter, or 1900 or 1800. As time moves on, life moves on too, adapting and changing to match the needs of itself.
So why is it then that these life goals that I previously mentioned have not shifted? I'm sure that everyone's experiences have been different, but for me I've always seen the same ideas in media and advertisements since I was a kid over a decade ago: falling in love, starting a family, and becoming rich and successful. At some point I began asking myself whether these were my own goals or the ones I thought of as the "expected of me" kind of goals. What if I don't want to grow up to be rich and successful, and instead learn to appreciate what I already have? Perhaps at this point in life I am not ready for love, or ready to start a family, and instead have a ways to go before I even consider something like that. Don't get me wrong, they are good goals, but I asked my friend whether they were his own goals, or the ones that were pushed onto him from those around him and what he perceived the expectations of him to be.
After we talked, we both realized that our true goals are the ones we place the most value in. I remember a time at the beginning of college that I wanted to find love because I felt so alone and out of place, but looking back I understand now that it was not the right time for me. Had I gotten into a relationship I would not have been the emotionally mature person my partner likely would've wanted in their life. Nowadays I am far better than I was back then but I still recognize I have a ways to go before I can be the right person for someone. For my friend, he realized that he is the same, and that right now, his goal of finding love is the one he always thought he was "meant" to have and felt pressured to have due to his upbringing. In another one of my posts I talk about the idea of our goals changing over the course of our life, and the same kind of thing applies here. If your goals feel impossible, or you feel that your heart is not truly in them, maybe it's time to reconsider whether those goals you have are really yours.
Right now, in this moment, I'd like to encourage you to think about your short and long term goals. What are they? Why are they your goals? Are they ones that you feel personally invested in and want to achieve, or are they goals you've felt that you need to have in order to "succeed" in life? For me, an example of this might be finding love. I've always had that goal but I never felt personally invested in it. I realized some time ago that it wasn't love I wanted, but companionship, and I found it in the friends I've made online and in person too. I recognized my desire for love was because, in everything I saw in entertainment media, companionship was more focused on one's love life than the friends they had. What eventually clicked for me was that I need to work on myself more before I can truly look for love, but that means that I open myself to more goals that I know I truly want to achieve and that will help me grow as a person. That way, when I am ready to be open to the love of a relationship, I am the best kind of person I can be for my partner.
Wherever you are in life, your goals are attainable. Never forget that. Even if they need to be framed a little differently, all goals are valid. What I'm challenging you to do is, with all the life goals we have pushed onto us, ask yourself: are they also your own goals?