In today’s fast-paced world, we are constantly bombarded with the pressure to meet traditional milestones “in time“. Starting with graduating from college by a certain age to getting married and having children, society has set expectations for us to achieve certain goals within a specific timeframe.
But why do we still feel this pressure, and is it really necessary in a time where -thanks to a longer life expectancy – we can expand our horizons further and plan new goals accordingly?
The pressure to meet traditional milestones in time is a societal construct that can have negative effects on our mental health and well-being. This can be especially true for those who are struggling to meet these milestones due to various circumstances.
It is important to remember that everyone’s journey is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all timeline for achieving these milestones.
Unfortunately, the fear of falling behind (often amplified by social media) can lead to feelings of inadequacy and the need to keep up with others. We are constantly comparing ourselves to someone’s else achievements, and if we feel like we are not achieving the goals we’re supposed to reach at a specific time as our peers, we may feel like we are not living up to our full potential.
“The feeling that we’re not doing our best can trigger shame“, writes professional counsellor Carolyn Moriarty from the Chicago Counseling Center. “When we assume that we have ultimate control over our lives, any inability to manipulate or change our circumstances leads to self-loathing. From this perspective, the root of the unhappiness is not necessarily about the way things currently are, but rather the belief that things could and should be different”.
What we forget is that when we are solely focused on meeting traditional milestones in time, we may neglect other important aspects of our lives such as relationships, personal growth, and self-care. This can lead to a lack of balance and myopic perspectives.
Actually, it is okay to deviate from societal norms and expectations. The best thing we can remind ourselves of is that we can do things on our terms when and if we’re ready.
So, instead of feeling behind on this imaginative timeline that society has gifted us with, why not celebrate our personal achievements, no matter how small they may seem? These can be just as meaningful and fulfilling as meeting traditional milestones, and they should not be overlooked or undervalued.
More importantly, not having reached particular life milestones does not mean you are failing in life or lagging behind everyone else. We need to permit ourselves to be human. And permit ourselves to trust our journey. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it,” says Maya Angelou.