We tend to give ourselves targets to achieve life’s major milestones. Our motivation may be biologically driven, but can also be influenced by societal constructs. Expectations about buying a home, marriage, children, career and retirement buzz around in our heads. I must do this by then… Often, it’s subliminal. We may not even recognise the power of external pressures. If only we could let go of the need to compare our progress against another’s.
I have a clear memory of my Year 10 commerce class. I was sixteen years of age. Mr Berzins asked us to predict what our life would look like ten years into the future. I remember the collective giggle from the class when he said, ‘It will be the year 2000’- It seemed so far away.
The words flowed onto the page without any sign of resistance. The blobbing ink of my ballpoint pen was the only distraction as I filled an entire page of my workbook. One of the lines read… I will be married to a kind man who loves me, and I’ll have two or three children. As it turned out, I didn’t marry until I was forty-three and I still haven’t had a baby. For some, these unmet expectations can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and even a sense of failure.
We try to make the most effective use of the time we have. It’s also natural to want to take short cuts. If we get the hard things out of the way, won’t this give us more freedom to do the things we love. Some people read summaries of books to get to the point quicker, but what about the invaluable lessons hidden amongst the discarded pages. Others want to find the fastest route on google maps, but the treasures on the scenic route may never be discovered. Special moments lost forever, for the sake of a little time. The destination becomes the focus, instead of the road there.
We don’t impose time limits on children to walk or talk, but we put unfair pressure on ourselves when we try to outrun divine timing. My expectation was to have my first book published within a year and it’s taken over four. I had to release the need to control how long it was going to take. The delays represented success not failure. The frustrations represented blessings not roadblocks. That extra time — gaining knowledge and experience — has made the book richer. I surrendered. My time line was irrelevant. When we try to do things faster, we are craving the end result. The accolades. The satisfaction. But the good stuff is gained in the blood, sweat and tears of the ‘getting there.’
If we resist facing certain things in our life, it may take up extra time too. When we believe we can avoid pain by skipping over it, we may find ourselves going backwards not forwards. Just like in the boardgame Snakes and Ladders, short cuts don’t guarantee that you will be the winner. It doesn’t matter how many ladders are climbed, if we haven’t experienced what we need to, and we land on a snake’s head, we are sent backwards to retrace our steps until we learn what we are meant to.
I’m thankful I didn’t play out the predictions I’d written about at school. I would have settled. I hadn’t found true happiness back then. I’m glad I trusted that if I were destined to find a life partner, I would. Whenever it was supposed to happen. Sometimes the timing feels all wrong, when is exactly right.
Whatever you are working towards, be patient. Welcome the miracles you are meant to experience, instead of forcing what you think is supposed to happen. Be open to unimaginable alternatives. Work to the universal timeline instead of your own. Self-imposed time limits can indeed be limiting.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you want to hear more from me, please like my ‘Lisa Benson Author’ page on Facebook or follow me (lisabensonauthor) on Instagram.