The Invisible Timeline: Why It's Okay To Be Off Track

by Brittany Tai

Many of us were taught to have a plan. We were taught to get a career, find love, procreate and earn lots of money. Maybe not necessarily all in that order or even with that list, but we were taught to prepare ourselves.

We should expect the unexpected, choose a career before it chooses us and have it all figured out. When I started high school, I heard the, "In 10 years, don't you want to have a successful career and know where your life is going?"

Well, it's been almost 10 years and do I know where my life is going? Absolutely not.

I have a job, but I'm not even certain if it's career material. Recently, a handful of my 20-something-year-old friends got together and unbeknownst to us, stumbled upon the topic of life.

We wondered how we let 10 years slip by without finding the perfect careers, soul mates (only some of us agreed on that) or knowing what the hell we want to do.

We collectively came to the conclusion that we simply thought we had time. Somberly, a question was posed: "Is it okay that we haven't figured out our lives by now?" My answer: "Damn straight, it is."

Growing up, we had the mentality that we were working towards our future. We had this invisible timeline that when we graduated from college and entered the real world, we would be utilizing our degrees and making money.

We all had dreams and goals, but some of us we were hit with reality, which forced or caused us to sway from one dream to another. We experienced personal things that guided us to a different calling, or we simply had a change of heart.

Some of us were lucky enough to stick to the dream we wanted since we were 16 and are now bankers, researchers or students. But, what about the rest of the group who have gone from one job to another trying to figure it all out?

Times have changed; certain jobs are becoming obsolete. We're even discovering new talents about ourselves.

Instead of wanting to be real estate brokers, we want to be surgeons. Our surroundings 10 years ago trained us to believe we had to have a timeline, that by the time we turned 30, we should be set for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, this sense of time is our biggest setback.

For those of you not following your timelines, listen up: It's okay.

Instead of wallowing over the fact that our lives may not be where we want them to be right now, we need to remind ourselves that this limbo we're in is us "figuring it out."

Though it may take some time, we won't let ourselves get to the point of feeling like we've lost our vision of the future us. We have way too many available resources and people to help us along the way for us to be discouraged.

The only thing we need to figure out is how to get rid of the damn timeline, and to get out of the mentality that we need to be a certain someone by the time we're 30. As long as we stay hungry and not complacent, it'll happen.

We will eventually be where we want to be and be happy with our decisions. We just have to trust the struggle and live the way we want. In time, it'll happen.

Also, in my opinion, with age comes experience. I mean, I wouldn't want a 30-year-old surgeon operating on me anyway.