I once had a childhood friend who at 22 was not only married with her first baby on the way, but had lived with her sighted man for 3 years prior to getting married. She was blind just like me. As a blind woman who just wants to be part of the mainstream world, I always strived to do everything I could for my blindness to become as unnoticeable as possible by trying to do what every one of my sighted friends did. I admired this childhood friend a lot, because to me she was someone who was so “normal” despite her blindness. I was just as integrated as her, but I just felt she was doing way better than me in every way.And when she had settled, I felt as if I had failed. I was 23, had no real marriage prospects and certainly no baby on the way. What I did have though, was a job in the BBC, but it’s hard to see yourself and your situation from another perspective when you don’t feel amazing about who you are which I didn’t at the time. And having a BBC job in London as a Norwegian 23-year-old is no small thing.
In the same way we look at someone else’s life and envy how perfect they seem, we look to others who achieve things we ourselves want to achieve and envy how they did it before us. But life isn’t a competition. And there is a different time for me to achieve something you already nailed.
I have come to believe in divine timing and that we can only progress with what we want when we’re truly ready. That might not always be when we think we’re ready though. My childhood friend clearly was in the right place for family life at 22. And although I wanted the same, I can see now that I was far from it. I have come a long way emotionally, spiritually and even physically from when I was 23 and I am much better equipped to deal with taking care of someone else apart from me now.
Likewise, I look at young wonder talents and feel a little twinge of envy. Imagine if my career could have started young like Beyonce, Rhianna or Britney Spears. Or imagine if I had received Young Journalist of the year award, something you have to be under 26 to achieve. And why couldn’t I have published my first novel at 23 like my favourite author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? There certainly was no lack of will or passion from my side to achieve either. But there was a lack of both maturity on my part and the right nurturing to achieve it.
I am no longer 23, but my skin is thicker and my mind is a lot more focused. I still have decades ahead of me where I can achieve great things in my chosen fields. Just because I started later doesn’t mean I’m lagging behind.
It doesn’t matter if you do something before or after someone else. The important thing is that you do them when you have the capacity in the form of maturity, ability, economy time etc. It can be easy to look at life as a competition. But when that happens, it’s important to take a breather, disconnect from the pressure you create on yourself by meditating, journaling, exercising or relaxing in any other way that makes you forget about life just for a bit. And then come back with renewed strength.
I mentioned in a previous post how I sometimes look at other female artists I feel I can compare myself to and feel a little envious of their success. And even understanding that what they have now can be mine next year, doesn’t always help to make me feel better. But after having taken that timeout, I try and turn those negative feelings into a positive force that will make me go forward and achieving that success on my own terms and with my tools.