A Race Against Time

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If time is simply a construct, then why do I constantly feel the need to get ahead of it? They say, “time waits for no one,”which is true, but when my heart is filled with so many dreams, I wish it would wait a moment, just for me. “You’re only 21 years old.” I’ve heard it said a million times. They say I have my whole life ahead of me, but how can I be sure that is true? After all, tomorrow is promised to no one – not even me. There’s no way I can rest and linger when this fact consumes me. It haunts me. Every day I am faced with this reality, and it only exacerbates the panic inside of me.

Sometimes I feel like I’m my own worst enemy. My thoughts are so loud that it feels paralyzing – all of these passions hoping to be fulfilled. So many great ideas race through my mind at a million miles per minute, but I have absolutely no clue where to start. I become so afraid of failing – afraid of making the wrong decision, that I resort to doing nothing. But I must do something because I’m running out of time. Sure, death may be scary, but nothing quite compares to the possibility of not succeeding.

I hope to earn my Bachelor’s degree by age 22 and my Master’s degree by age 24. I have to stick to the timeline. But who exactly am I trying to prove myself to?

Mom, dad, sisters, grandmother, great-grandmother, grandfather. They all have vast dreams for me. It’s hard trying to live up to all their expectations. There are so many people counting on me to succeed. But what happens when my family’s definition of success isn’t enough for me? Degrees, high-paying jobs, marriage, kids, retirement – the traditional meaning of success. Is that the life that will bring me peace?

I’m not sure. I don’t know what exactly will bring me peace, but I am certain that the answer will become unveiled at some point in the future.

I never understood how any student could possibly know what they want to do with their life when they’re 18 years old. I am in my 20s now, and I still struggle to even decide what to have for dinner. It is highly unrealistic to expect myself to have it all figured out right now. I know that. But yet, I’m still unable to grasp this fact. I can’t let go of this idea that I must accomplish everything by a specific timeframe or else I’m a failure. I long to take a moment and meditate on my own dreams. To fully learn who I am. To truly know what makes me, me. But I can’t keep my eyes off of the clock, so there’s no way I can do this peacefully.

I’ve spent so many years doing what I thought I was supposed to do and rarely spent any time doing what I wanted to. Somewhere over the years, I’ve lost myself. But I can hear her out there searching; I hear her calling my name. She tells me to let go of the restraints and relax, but how can I do that when I take life so seriously? How can I do that when my mind constantly attacks me and fear consumes me? Living in fear isn’t living at all. What’s the point of having dreams if I won’t let those dreams be free? Why bother having so many passions if I only keep them locked away? How can I possibly grow if I don’t allow myself to fail? How can I possibly discover who I am if I won’t allow myself to be still?

The truth is, I have so much time ahead of me. I can allow myself to sit and breathe. Whether I live to be 80 or die tomorrow, I have no reason to rush because there are endless possibilities ahead of me. I silence the nagging thoughts that tell me, “I’m running out of time, and I won’t succeed.” I have so much to learn and so much to see. I daydream about all the future challenges and experiences that await me. I can, and I will peacefully go at my own pace and live unafraid until I discover what truly makes me happy.

I will embrace the mundane because even the insignificant moments deserve to be cherished. I only live through my 20s once, so why not enjoy it? I choose to redirect my focus and redefine the meaning of success. I will seize every moment. I will take hold of the things that I can control; I will release the things that I cannot. As scary as it may be, I’m eager to take the leap and begin living for me.