By Cheong Wen Xuan
Ah yes, the perennial question. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say this in university…
This stage of life, the transition between childhood and adulthood, is a confusing and tricky one. On one hand, you’re still blessed with the vigour of youth and you still desire the carefreeness and fun of being young, and on the other hand, each passing day heaps more and more responsibilities and restraints on you, that’s just part and parcel of the pressures of growing up.
Awkwardly straddling the gaping divide between being a fun-loving kid without a care in the world, and a mature adult who has all their s*** together, can be hard. You’re constantly struggling with so many (hugely different) things, and this stage of life becomes a race between peers – whose GPA is higher, who has done more internships, who has more social life, who gets more sleep, who has secured a post-grad job, who is doing more, who is doing less.
There’s also so much pressure to be all-rounded; to be young – to have fun, to have friends, to be involved in co-curricular activities, and also to be old – to be focused, to be mature, to find good jobs, and to be independent.
Being at this age and being in competition can be extremely draining and stressful. You compare your credentials and your achievements as if you’re worth no more than that, and notice with dismay that you seem to be at a different stage of life from others. Others are graduating while you’re still in NS. Some have settled down and applied for BTO while you’re still partying every weekend. It’s easy to beat yourself up, feel depressed about your own stage of life, and to berate yourself – “What am I doing with my life?!”
What people tend to forget is that life should not be a race or competition, as everyone functions in their own time zone. This is beautifully illustrated in the piece by an unknown author below.
So to all my fellow struggling 20-something-year-olds out there, if you just can’t seem to make out what stage of life you should be in, or just what you’re doing with your life… Remember that comparison is truly the thief of all joy!
Focus on yourself.
Everyone is different, everyone has special strengths, weaknesses, inhibitions, privileges, circumstances, and opportunities. It’ll be unfair to yourself (and to others) to constantly measure yourself against people around you.
While it is important not to measure and compete, it doesn’t mean that you should stop pushing yourself, as it is equally important to bloom where you are planted. Do your best at every stage of life you are in, regardless of the stage of life you are in. Whatever you’re doing with your life, as long as you’re doing it well and giving it your 101%, you’re sure to go places, even if you don’t quite know where you’re going yet.
After all, life is a long journey, and there’s no rush to get to the end destination just yet – that just takes all the joy out it 😉