I’ve become increasingly aware of the reality that being in your 20’s is an extremely interesting time of your life. For one, you’re expected to have fun – to enjoy your youth with your friends and begin to flourish in the freedom of being a young adult. On the other hand, there’s this expectation and pressure that as a young adult you have to do well in school, get an internship at a top firm – hopefully one that pays, and graduate on time to really “start” your life and become an “real” adult. Seems a bit confusing no? Almost contradictory, but logical at the same time… When these two ends of the spectrum become isolated from one another we begin to fall victim to the things we perceive we have to do in order to go through life in an acceptable way, rather than finding ways to balance our experiences and find fulfillment. There are so many things that young adults have to learn to balance, and it is not easy by any means. So how do we begin to contextualize this challenging time, which is also supposed to be the “best time of your life.”
In the midst of all the changes that we go through, we sometimes lose sight of what our 20-something years on this earth really mean in the context of our entire life. Many will face their first failure and feel as though their careers are over, while others will have success and assume that their lives are set. There are arguments that can be made for both scenarios, but I wanted to introduce an idea that could perhaps link the two, removing this sense of “one or the other” in the hope that we can try to strike a balance in our ambitions.
Growing up, I always had dreams and goals of what my future would be like. The people I’d meet, the places I’d visit and the things I would do. Growing up, these ambitions were always filtered through the lens of “I’ll do that when I’m older.” They felt so distant, only achievable with the knowledge and experience I still needed to gain in order to even attempt any of them. It was a comfortable time, my focus being only on what my goals were in relation to what my life consisted of in the moment. When I turned 19, however, I began to feel different about things. I began to realize, whether I was ready or not, that the desire to act on those ambitions that had been dormant throughout my adolescence was too strong to contain. I reached a place where I began taking risks not only in my actions, but also in my thinking. Instead of saying “I’ll do that when I’m older”, I started asking myself “what if I did that now?” This is one of the ways in which ZULUECHO Initiative began. What I came to realize, was that I was not too young, but in fact, I was too old to NOT begin following those dreams and chasing those goals.
We often times assume that our life will fall perfectly within the timeline that we have created for ourselves. But when we create those imagined timelines, we do so without the informed context of the future we have left to live. I know too many people that have given up on their dreams at the age of 20-25, for the simple fact that it did not work the first time or they think there’s no time left. If you are one of those people, it’s not too late. You are too old to wait and say you will do it tomorrow, but you are young enough to still have the rest of your life to act on that burning passion in your heart. If you want to change the next 40 years of your professional life, invest in your happiness and passion now. Whatever you told yourself you wanted to do “when you were older,” chase it now.
That is not to say that everybody has to fall within the same time frame – it is impossible to make that happen as we are all different, our life-clocks ticking at different speeds. We don’t share the same paths through life and that is okay. What we do share however, is the reality that we can be more than what we are right now, and in the context of our respective lives we have a lot of time to make it happen. We have enough experience and knowledge on our shoulders to make informed decisions, but enough time to make mistakes as well. While we may feel we know it all, we will still learn more by simply trying things and failing. The more we try, the more we learn and ultimately, the closer we become to painting the picture of our life that we always imagined when we were younger.
We are at a beautiful moment in our lives where we are too old to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”, but too young to say “it’s too late”.
Believe in the power of your dream… and go get it.