Last week I read two articles that were trying to say something about life and how we should live it. One was about the advice life experts (aka senior citizens) have for us young ‘uns. The other was about how my generation is stuck in a morass of confusion about what success means in these modern times.
The first article struck a chord with me in that it captured much of what I try to achieve in life: live in the moment, prioritize your relationships above overtime, travel as often and as far as you can. The second article struck a chord too, but more because it exemplified why it’s so damn hard to follow the advice in the first.
According to the second article, the path past generations have followed to mark and achieve conventional success, “college→good_job→marriage→house→ family→cushy retirement,” is no longer a guarantee. But do we even need a path? Do we need something to constantly judge ourselves against? Maybe letting go of this conventional approach is the best thing that could happen to us.
I think it’s the mentality and expectation of finding a clearly defined “success” that keeps us in a cycle of disappointment and frustration. Even when we reach some of these markers, after the glow wears off, we’re stuck with a feeling of emptiness and confusion. We’ve checked all those boxes, our parents are proud…why are we so unhappy?
I call it the pirate ride because it feels like that carnival ride where a boat swings like a pendulum. We feel a short high at the crest of each swing before our stomachs drop on the way back down.
Perhaps we feel that sense of dissatisfaction after we reach the next step because we’ve ignored the advice culled from the experience of generation after generation. By thinking about the next thing, we miss the beauty of the world around us. We are sacrificing vacation days and travel opportunities for that next promotion. We are so focused on achieving that next success that we’re ignoring the people we love.
So – let’s let it go.
Let’s choose to get off this ride, the tracks are getting rickety anyway.
Let’s remind each other that success is finding what makes us happy and pursuing it, prestigious or not.
Let’s encourage each other to get out of our bubbles and see the world.
Let’s be there for each other and for those we love.
Let’s be the generations with more fond memories than regrets.