To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde
I am 20 years old at the moment and I’m in the prime of my life right now. At least, that’s what everybody tells me. They tell me that I’m at the perfect point in my life right now where I don’t have many responsibilities, but that I’ve got just enough. People also tell me that this is the time to do everything that I’ve ever dreamt of doing before it’s too late (read: too old). In the country where I live at my age I’m able to go almost everywhere and I can do almost everything I want. For example going to casino’s, clubs, drinking, driving, buying my own house…heck even drugs is now legal to me. Now that I’m mentioning all of these things, no wonder that I made myself believe that life finally had started for me. I also thought by myself that this was the perfect moment to finally start working on making my dreams come true and at the same time enjoying life with my best friends. It would be a time remembered as living: young, wild and free.
I have to say, at first it was such an amazing feeling to feel like the world had just started for me. During Monday until Friday I was going to college to study for my bachelor’s degree in psychology. In the weekends I was most of the time ‘occupied’ with hanging out with my friends and doing whatever we decided to do at that moment. We were going to crazy parties that we were finally allowed to go to and experimenting with all types of ‘things’. And in the meanwhile I had a part-time job at a local supermarket that was basically financing my weekends. My goals were pushed into the background of my life, due to the obvious time constraints. But it didn’t really bother me since I thought that it would eventually become a priority again in my life sooner than later when everything was a little bit calmer.
Unfortunately, I found out later that things don’t work out as you would expect them to be.
Since I was 19 I spent my life like I just described above for 7 successive months. I was really happy during the time and we made indeed some unforgettable memories. However I also felt during the same time that there was something missing. I was wondering about what happened to my dreams and ambitions. There was always something that prevented me from working on my goals. Also I was wondering if this was really it? Was this really the so-called ‘prime’ of your life? My friends never thought about these types of questions and weren’t as ambitious as me. They were content with what they were doing in life. I was the one that stood out in my group of friends, because of my goals of what I wanted to accomplish in the future. My future plans were always one of my favorite things to talk and to philosophy about, but during that time I made almost zero effort to back my words up with actions…
Eventually I became really frustrated with my situation and decided that there was only one thing I could do.
I decided to take a really good look at myself. At 20 years old I felt horrible knowing that I was exactly the same person as when I was 19. Besides some school achievements, I didn’t progress on my personal goals. Heck I didn’t even start working on them, because I told myself every time that I had plenty of time. My friends were also still at the same ‘level’ as when they were last year, but that’s what they choose voluntarily for.
I didn’t. I choose voluntarily to have big goals in my life and to test myself, because that’s how I am.
When I compared myself with my friends I found out that it was me, and only me, who decided to do everything else, except what I really wanted to do. My friends never pushed me to do things, however I felt like I would them down when I told them that I had other things to do. I also didn’t want to feel left behind, because that’s how I would feel when I didn’t join my friends to go somewhere. However at the same time I was also experiencing cognitive dissonance, because I also wanted to spent time working on myself in the weekends. So my attitude and behavior weren’t aligned and this caused a lot of frustration. On the one hand I wanted to hang out with my friends and on the other hand I wanted to do my own things.
Finally, after I found what I did wrong I made the best decision in my life: I chose to balance my life. I found out that an excess of something goes at the expense of something else; in my case it was my sense of fulfillment. I wanted to do two things at the same time that were both equally important to me with the result that I never was satisfied with my life and that I always was wondering about what I could do if I wasn’t busy with something else.
Balance taught me that it’s all about making decisions in life. Having a balanced life helps me with managing my priorities and it helps me being satisfied with my choices. I have much less ‘what if’ moments or regret of decisions that I have made. For example in my case, I can hang out with my friends in the weekends, but I now feel like that I’m not obligated to do it every weekend without feeling any cognitive dissonance. It makes me conscious of what I really feel and what I really want to do in my life.
But most importantly, it makes me feel unconditionally fulfilled and that’s something in life we all want: being fulfilled with the lives that we live.
Have you ever lost yourself in one thing that you forgot about all the other things in life that were equally important to you?
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