Time is like a clock that keeps running, but one that will stop at one point. This stopping point, however, is different for everyone. So why should people be running a race against each other? Life becomes a pointless race when one starts comparing it to those of other people.
Unfortunately, there are more people running in this race in the world than those that are not. These people have formed benchmarks of their own. According to these standards, people must be in college at a certain time, graduate at a certain time, get a job of their dreams at a certain time, and the list goes on. However, who says that these things are what makes a successful life? Who puts a timeline on these things? Each person in the world runs on a distinctive timeline. It would be foolish to fit everyone’s life into one timeline.
These standards, from my observation, are more stringent in Korean society. People that meet for the first time in Korea almost always ask these two questions: “What is your name?” and “How old are you?” And when the age is revealed, they automatically assume where among these benchmarks the other person is at. For example, Korean people would rarely assume a forty-year-old to be an undergraduate student. They would never assume a twenty-year-old to have started his or her own business. But why shouldn’t a forty-year-old be in school? Why can’t a twenty-year-old start a business without ever being in college? Success looks different to everyone. This is why people need to quit looking at each other for what they should do next to live a successful life.
I used to be obsessed with time as well. I used to think that I need to have everything planned and that life must go as I planned. In middle school, I typed up a 25-year plan for my life. In this plan, I wrote when I’m going to achieve certain things by. I wrote down when I’m going to have a job, get married, have kids, own a house, etc. Looking back, I realize now that there are no guarantees in life. In middle school, I wanted to become a doctor. Now, I’m studying education and hoping to become a teacher. In middle school, I dreamed of being married and having three kids by the age of thirty. Now, I am not certain whether I even want to get married. While it is great to have goals, we must realize that life certainly does not follow our plan. The timeline that we make for ourselves is a myth. Our wants can always change. Our circumstances in life cannot be predicted. Therefore, it is important to embrace this uncertainty and enjoy what life throws at us.
It is easy to feel impatient when people around us seem to be achieving more things than we are. And we may choose to run in this race and live by the standards that society has created. But the question we need to consider is: Would we be happy in this race? Would we be happy always chasing the next sunset, only to realize that the chase never ends? I believe not. I have chosen to quit this race that doesn’t exist. I have chosen to be happy at this moment rather than be impatient about what I think I should have accomplished. I have chosen to live my life, to achieve my own goals at my own time, and to be content with where I am in life. I have chosen to slow down and take life one wave at a time, and I encourage you to do the same.