The worst thing we do to ourselves is put a timer on things especially when it comes to life goals. Birthdays or knowing how old you are seems to exasperate that feeling of running out of time especially to try new things. I’m not against celebrating my own existence on this planet, but personally once I hit that 30 mark with each coming birthday they started to become tinged with the thought that I’m getting old. And when do you actually get “old” by the way?
Not that I dont value my life or am not grateful for all that I’ve so far experienced. In fact its because I am fortunate to be living in a country where the pursuit of goals and dreams, big or small, is encouraged that it keeps pushing me on to go on after them. But it’s not always easy or straightforward. Sometimes as they say, the goalposts shift.
For instance, I wanted to give up graphic design and do full-time illustration work by the time I was 40, but because of a multitude of reasons collectively called “life” it didn’t happen. I’m nearing 50 now and although I’ve freed up more time to concentrate on illustration and less design, it’s not full-time or paying, and the reality is I may have to keep on being a graphic designer to sustain me.
Even though I get frustrated at that, reflecting on the last ten or even twenty years I dont know if I could have done anything differently to have met that deadline. Life just happens. You have to work to make ends meet, you might have family to care for that takes priority, moving, renovating, your own health issues, the list goes on.
At different times I had to deal with all those things but honestly on top of that, artistically I think I was still trying to work out what I wanted anyway. Sometimes it was even the case of having too many ideas and not knowing which to prioritise with the spare time I had. So my own goals kept changing. There was so much to learn and develop about my own sense of self I never really factored that in.
Whenever that kind of first-world anxiety hits me I have to ask myself the big question – even though I’m behind schedule would I ever stop pursuing it? Or stop thinking about it? The answer would be a definite no. Even if I finally achieve what I set out to do, will that be it? Put my feet up and spend the rest of my days watching sunsets? No.
I love it. Despite the disappointment of not being where I want to be, admittedly the pursuit is part of the fun and gives me a buzz that nothing else does. It engages all my senses and challenges me. That checklist of things to do will always be long because I look forward to so many things and creating even more. As the saying goes “getting there is half the fun”, well sometimes its all the fun.
Life shifts and moves constantly. Forget about the age factor, it’s near too late to go for things. Sure you might need more time, move slower, ache more and have more responsibilities than your younger self, but it’s only too late when you’ve given up. What’s more regrettable – trying or not trying at all?
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