Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Feeling Like You’re Behind In Life

I recently met up with my old High school friends for the first time since we graduated 5 years ago. The first few questions you ask an old acquaintance is along the lines of “so what are you doing now?”. So I asked a variation of this question to all of them.

One has just signed a contract with a major bank with a handsome salary. The other just completed his degree and will be starting a job with Ernest and Young come September. The next has already started a job with Deloitte. Last but not least, one chose to continue his master’s degree whilst having the opportunity to play soccer at a semi-professional level for a U-23 MLS team.

So once they answered the question and out of politeness gave the floor back to me, my answer embarrassed me. I’m still an undergraduate only halfway to my degree at 21 years of age.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but they’ve managed to graduate from prestigious universities and land even more prestigious jobs. All in the same time that it took me to complete one and a half years of university.

After our mini-reunion, I was feeling disappointed in myself as I am nowhere near achieving what my classmates are achieving. Surprised by their achievements and disappointed with my lack thereof.

I turned to what I always do when I’m feeling particularly down, put my thoughts down on paper. In an attempt to understand why there’s a feeling of self-pity, where a sense of awe and joy for my peers should be.

After completing the journaling session that usually doubles as therapy and an untangling of thoughts, which are basically one and the same. I was left with one question

“what is it that I really want?”.

The question stems from asking myself “do I really want to be working for one of the big 4 accounting firms?”. If that were the case I would be feeling jealousy towards my peers rather than self-pity. The truth is; no, I don’t want to work for the big four. I do however feel behind in life. All of them have tangible proof of their progression. They have prestigious jobs, degrees, and the salaries that go with them.

I, on the other hand, have nothing to show for the past 5 years except for a few stints at entry-level jobs that I can add to my CV. Plus some credits that count towards a Bachelors of Science in Economics from a highly ranked university. The problem is that I considered an achievement only to be something that you can add to your CV. When in actuality your CV doesn’t reflect who you are, how you’ve grown, and what you’ve accomplished.

The challenges that you face and overcome are not always CVable, yet they are your most important character developments. Your worth as a human being, what you can bring to the table are not accurately reflected in your CV. Why do you think the face-to-face interviews are ultimately what land you the job?

I still have a ways to go to figure out this little thing we call life. Yet I’m much closer to figuring out who I am and what it is that I want. In the past five years, I’ve attended three different universities overcome some of the most daunting challenges one could face, and became a different more improved version of myself. To the extent that my high-school peers noticed a difference in me, two of them said that I’ve changed. Instead of being the hot-head that they once knew I was now someone that keeps his cool in situations where emotions run high. I’m told that’s a desirable quality for a potential employee, but I can’t really put that on my CV.

There’s still much more to understand about myself, but only through conflicts can you learn about yourself and grow. I’ve faced many a conflict and I’m grateful. Because now I have a greater understanding of myself. And have managed to refine the tools required to solve problems that arise in my life. Ultimately I’m not behind in life, but I’ve had my fair share of obstacles to overcome earlier on in life.

That doesn’t mean that life is smooth sailing from now on, but when problems arise I will be better able to handle them. Remember you’re not behind you’re just still going through all the possibilities before you find the one that works best for you.

Just a pondering idiot. Studying Economics at University of Nottingham Malaysia. Jack of all trades, master of none.