You Don’t Have to Conquer the World by 25

I’m 23, single, and a returning college student. I haven’t published a book, I haven’t started a Fortune 500 company and I haven’t seen Europe. When I have a free weekend, I fill it with Netflix Marathons and laundry. I may be happy and rested, but I still haven’t made a name for myself. I have no highly esteemed internship, no trail of adoring fans yearning for my signature, and no viral video. Hell, I am happy camper when I have stink-free clothes, some chocolate, and enough seasons of Parks and Recreation to keep me laughing for hours.

Then I do it; I open social media, and am bombarded with all the incredible adventures of friends and celebrities. Even a quick peek at Twitter and I see one accomplishment after another from writers, filmmakers, CEOs, athletes, comedians, and musicians, who most of which are younger than I am. I look around my living room and realize all I’ve done this weekend is become a Leslie Knope aficionado and clean my undies.

The panic sets in each time I compare my 23 years on this planet with other’s 23 or 25 or 30 years. Have I contributed enough? Have I explored enough? Have I reached the adequate amount of awesomeness? When I stop and realize that the average life expectancy for a woman is 86 (for a man, 84), I know I’m slightly over a quarter of my projected lifespan. And many years of that first quarter were spent wearing diapers and learning how to walk and count to ten. Yet I somehow manage to work myself up into a frenzy thinking that maybe I haven’t conquered enough of the world yet. I panic. Maybe its jealousy, maybe it’s worry that I won’t amount to all the things I want to become.

Now, I’m most certainly a person who believes in taking on adventures! If I have one shot on this planet, I might as well experience, contribute, and create as many things as possible. But I must remember one important fact -I am a human BEING not a human DOING. I am a human being who does things; cool things, boring things, extraordinary things, and ordinary things. Above all my doing, I am a being. And this human being cannot do everything. And I absolutely cannot do everything all at the same time!

When I see the next up-and-coming young author featured by The New York Times, or when I see the latest Forbes ’30 Under 30′, the panic might set in. I might wonder what’s wrong with me and why I haven’t ‘made it’ yet. But I hope I’ll take a moment to sit back and remember that I cannot have it all. Even more, I cannot have it all right now. Just because I haven’t written the best novel of the 21st century, gone on an African Safari or started my booming business, does not mean that I’m not succeeding as me. Right now I’m in a phase of life where I’m chasing practically every dream I had as a child. Nobody may know my name, and I may not be featured in Forbes, but this is success to me!

I’m guessing we are all going to have boring, ordinary weekends filled with Netflix and laundry. Because we are human beings. And that’s life. It’s not very Tweet-worthy, but we don’t have to conquer the world in the next year or two to be successful. Honestly, we may never accomplish over-the-top career accomplishments. But as long as we keep chasing our dreams, accepting and creating opportunities, and experiencing as much of life as we can, we can sit ourselves down at the end of the day and be fulfilled. And that’s more than enough.


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