Finding Your Way
In a world of increasing complexity and pressure to be relevant, it can be difficult to find your way; your own way of life both personally and professionally that provides fulfillment and purpose. Social media hasn't helped with this either. Everyday we're bombarded with others' curated life highlights that force us to compare ourselves with others. This person has more friends, makes more money, has more influence, or just seems much happier.
Of course we know that everyone has their problems and their social media front isn't exactly an accurate representation of that individual's day-to-day life. However, the constant comparisons force us to unfairly question our life, choices, and where we "should be" in life.
Regardless of how successful we actually can be, we can't help ourselves from comparing ourselves to others and we will always wrestle with the underlying contradiction that is human beings' tendencies to both be caring and competitive.
What we can help however, is our resolve to find contentment in the journey towards our goals. Lately, I've thought about my own journey and how different things have turned out compared to my previous expectations. In many ways, I've been blown away by myself. In others, I've been disappointed. I've also often wondered what things would be like if I chose a different path.
Naturally, we can be consumed by the thoughts of regret for not taking another path to reach our goal. Perhaps we could've gotten there sooner, with less barriers, with better people, etc. We also become obsessed with finding the "best" way to our destination so we read books, listen to "experts" and endlessly think over which path we should take since we're under the delusion that we only get one shot at it.
As I've learned to go deeper into not only people's stories, but also my own, I've come to learn a key and serene truth: Each of us are on our own unique path that no one else has, or ever will forge.
I lived in Japan for a few years in southern Tokyo. While I was there, I met a wise old man (cliche, I know, but it's true) who said, "there's more than one way to the top of a mountain". At the time, I was young, naive, and convinced of one true way. With less than 10 years to reflect on what he said, I've come to realize just how wise this man was.
As I contemplated the mountain analogy, I thought about how even though we may follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us, our own personal journey is only unique to us. We may follow a paved path yes, but the steps we make are our own. Even when we're with someone on the same path for a time, we are on different parts of the path, stepping on different rocks and focusing on something unique to us.
Take comfort in knowing that there is no "right way" to do this thing called life. Take comfort in knowing you're not a failure in your career for not being where someone else is. Take comfort instead in knowing you are forging your own path, your own way. What you get to experience in life is unique to you and you alone.
Take comfort in knowing that finding your way, means creating your own way.