There's this myth - a story really, that by a certain age, you'd have life figured out. As a kid, I remember hearing adults talk about their "golden years" as if reaching them meant you'd unlocked all of life's secrets.
It painted this picture in my head of adults having this internal manual, a guidebook they received once they hit a particular age. Somehow, they just knew how to handle everything, or so it seemed to my younger self.
Growing up, I bought into that story. High school came, and teachers, parents, everyone kept emphasizing the significance of the 'next big thing.' Whether it was graduation, getting into a reputable college, or landing that first job, each phase promised that once achieved, clarity would follow.
It felt like a conveyor belt of life events, each promising more answers than the last. There were these invisible milestones everyone seemed to chase.
It's almost as if society had this unwritten checklist, and ticking off each item meant you were one step closer to having it all sorted.
But each time I crossed one, expecting some grand sense of accomplishment, a surprise awaited. Instead of feeling like I had unlocked a new level of understanding, there was this void, a kind of emptiness that lingered.
We're all handed this roadmap, aren't we? From the moment we start to comprehend the world around us, society hands us this guide. Parents, teachers, and social media- they all seem to suggest a certain path. Pages filled with steps that promise self-actualization.
These steps speak of success, happiness, and achieving a life worth living. They hint at a sense of contentment, a feeling that if you tread this path, all the puzzles of life would fall into place. Follow them, and you'd think the destination is just around the corner.
That's what I believed too. Every time I achieved something, I’d think, "Ah, this is it. This is the feeling of completeness I was looking for." But the euphoria would fade, and reality would set in.
But it dawned on me - there's no final destination. The realization was both liberating and terrifying. There wasn't a magical age or milestone where everything suddenly made sense. Life wasn’t a linear journey, with a clear start and finish. Instead, it's a winding road with stops and detours, each offering a chance to learn, to grow.
Some stops teach patience, others resilience. Some detours are challenging, pushing you to your limits, while others provide moments of unexpected joy and insights. Each one is unique, teaching lessons you didn't even know you needed.
The digital age promises answers. With a device in our pocket, the entirety of human knowledge is accessible with just a few taps. I mean, just type in a question, and there's a set of solutions you didn't have before.
You'd think with so much information, finding oneself would be a cakewalk. But it’s the opposite. In an age of instant knowledge, genuine self-understanding feels more elusive. We're overwhelmed with external voices, often drowning out our own inner voice, that whisper from within that holds our unique truths.
Sure, the information is great. Every day, there’s a new article or podcast episode, detailing someone's journey or sharing the "secrets" to success. The modern age feels like a an endless array of wisdom, a spread of insights from countless souls. But it also became a crutch. Instead of introspection, I'd jump onto the internet, seeking hacks or quick fixes.
There was comfort in knowing someone else had been through it and had found an answer. I found myself leaning on others' perceptions of growth, taking their stories and trying to fit my narrative within theirs. It felt easier to adopt their milestones, use them as a template.
Adopting their milestones as mine was comforting in a way. It’s always easier to follow a path someone else has laid out. After all, there's safety in numbers, and if it worked for them, surely, it should work for me? But in doing so, in that noise of borrowed wisdom, I often missed the voice inside.
That soft, often hesitant whisper that speaks our truths, the one that genuinely understands our strengths, fears, and desires. It's a voice that isn't assertive, doesn't shout over the cacophony of external advice, but it's genuine and honest. The one that truly knew what I needed, even when I was too preoccupied to listen.
You see, understanding oneself isn't a weekend seminar or a 10-step guide. Those can be starting points, initial sparks, but the real journey is much more profound. It’s not something you can check off in between work meetings or during your daily commute. It's messier and, dare I say, a bit more chaotic. There's no linear progression, no neat chapters. There are days of clarity followed by weeks of confusion. But that chaos, that unpredictability, that's where the real growth happens. It’s in the unscripted moments that we come face to face with our true selves.
The Spiral of Self-Growth
When I imagined self-growth, it was linear, like a ladder. Every book I read, every seminar I attended, painted this picture of a straight climb to the top. Each step, each rung, was a milestone achieved, a goal reached. Every time I thought I conquered a challenge, I believed I'd moved up, closer to this ideal version of myself.
But now? My perspective has shifted. I see it more like a spiral, a winding journey that sometimes leads me back to familiar territories. Sometimes it feels like I'm circling back to where I started, revisiting old feelings, old challenges.
But there's a catch. Each time, I face them with a little more insight, a tad more wisdom. Those repetitive loops, they aren't setbacks. They're just reminders that growth isn’t a one-time thing.
The path towards your self isn't a straight line. It's not a highway where you can just set cruise control and coast. It's more like a scenic route, with its fair share of bumps and turns. It's filled with loops, and sure, sometimes it feels redundant. But each one offers a different perspective, a new lens to view challenges and experiences through.
But while the world outside feeds into this understanding, there's also an internal world inside, often overlooked but equally, if not more, essential.
Some days, the path seems clear, other days, it feels like you're in a dense forest with no compass, lost and searching for a way out. But that unpredictability, that uncertainty, that's what makes life an adventure, doesn't it? It's not about the destination but the journey, the experiences along the way, the lessons learned, the memories created.
So, as you read this, I hope you take a moment to embrace the journey you're on. To celebrate the endless pursuit of understanding, the quest to decode oneself. And while the path might sometimes be laden with challenges, with doubts, remember the joy that comes with discovery, the thrill of the unknown. Here's to the journey, to the exploration, and to the wonderful, unpredictable adventure that is life.