We all have a specific vision or expectation for our lives. Whether it is concerning a career, pursuing higher education, starting a family, or all the above. However, what happens when our expectations are not met accordingly to the plans we made? When I turned 22 last year, I felt like I was running out of time. Looking back, it was irrational and silly for me to feel that way when at the age of 22 I have so much time ahead of me. Nevertheless, my anxiety about running out of time was sparked because a lot of my visions and expectations I had for my life were centered around that particular age. I was doing the work I needed to do, enduring many sleepless nights, and continuing to stay positive. I was sure that by the time I turned 22 my life was going to fall into place just as I had envisioned it. So, as you can imagine, when my birthday past by I was disappointed when suddenly everything that I was working so hard for just seemed to be slipping through the cracks. I was going through setback after setback. So many of my friends and peers seemed to be navigating life so effortlessly, and they had so many opportunities coming their way. I was beyond excited for them, but a small part of me began to question myself and my abilities. I started to wonder: Am I working hard enough? What am I doing wrong? Why do I feel stuck?
I will be the first to admit that I use to be the person who tends to shut-down at the slightest disappointment or mishap. Due to that, I developed this mindset that because plan A, B, and C failed I just automatically knew plan …..X, Y, and Z wasn’t going to work either. That was the worst mistake I could have made because I was choosing not to live in my purpose. I didn’t realize that although I had setbacks, my purpose was still intact. I had to be honest with myself and evaluate the way things were playing out in my life. I realized that much of my problem was coming from the fact that: one, I could not let go of the vision I had for my life, and two I was comparing my progress to others. I had to figure out a way to get rid of that mindset. I prayed for clarity and understanding, and sure enough, I got my answer from the most unlikely source. One day I randomly came across numerous articles that seemed to all have a simple solution on how to view life and its challenges. They compared life to a GPS. I was slightly skeptical about this point of view. However, after reading these articles, something just clicked for me. When I put it in the context of my own life, it just all began to make sense. Life is like a GPS.
For Instance, if I’m planning on traveling a long distance to a new destination, I rely on a GPS. I trust that it will get me from point A to point B in a timely matter. However, there are often obstacles and difficulties that occur on the road that can interfere with our plans. Sometimes, it is human error. We get ahead of ourselves and rush, we think well maybe if I just turn left here instead I can get to my destination faster. We take the turn and realize we are not as familiar with the area as we thought. At this point, we believe we are lost, but luckily we have our GPS rerouting us to our destination. Further, on down the road, we may come across some construction or traffic, those obstacles can slow down our progress towards our target yet during all of that our GPS is finding alternative routes to our destination.
In the same way that conditions on the road are unpredictable, life is like that as well. We often get so stuck on one path for success, that we don’t recognize that there is more than one way to get to our destination. Not all the roads we travel on in life are going to be beautiful; some may take us to places that were never in our plans. It may take us longer than others to get to where we are going, but that is okay. I have learned to embrace my detours. Recognizing the beauty in them is essential. Although, some of them are not great, sometimes they teach us valuable lessons. They can prevent us from getting into situations that are not ideal, connect us to others, and help us grow as a person. So, rather than allowing myself to be defeated by my detours, I choose to build from them. First, I evaluate what my challenges are teaching me. Looking back, I recognized that in some instances I was not entirely prepared to receive that blessing, although I may have thought so at the time. I also realized that I was denied some of the things I wanted because something even better was on the way. I use my setbacks as a source of strength and continue to move forward because I know that regardless I am still in route to my destination.
On the other hand, this does not mean that we shouldn’t plan because without a plan or a goal in mind it’s hard to figure out where we are trying to go. This is more so recognizing that life is going to shake your plans up a bit. The path to success is never easy. Because we are living in such a social media driven society, it may appear that way, but that is not the case. We only we get a small glimpse others’ lives on our timelines. From our point of view, we see people traveling around the world, buying houses, starting new careers, and relationship goals galore. However, what we don’t see is what it took for them to get to that point. We don’t know how many times they were rerouted to their destination, the sacrifice they had to make, or the nights they cried and wanted to give up. That is why it is important not to compare your journey to others because no two success stories are the same. We all have our own goals, that will require a particular work ethic, and are sure to come with different obstacles. So, do not get discouraged when you see others blooming before you, but instead, be encouraged knowing that your blooming season is coming.
With all of this in mind, whatever setback you may be experiencing in your life right now is not the end-all-be-all for you, but instead, it is a stepping stone to direct you to the place you are meant to be. It is human nature to get upset and think “why me”? Being frustrated and angry is okay too. However, do not allow yourself to fall vulnerable to that state. Do not let those setbacks defeat you. Turn them around in your favor and use them as a source of strength to carry on. Think about it this way, when you finally reach your goal no one is going to ask you how long it took you to get there or focus on your challenges along the way. However, they will say, “You made it.”