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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Wang

Timeline in life

A lot of people seems to believe in the concept that there is this "right" timeline that they're supposed to follow in life. What I mean is that, from my observation, people often think that there are certain things that you are supposed to do and even specific times you're supposed to do them at. These things notably include school, career, marriage, and parenthood.

The commonly expected and most socially accepted timelines are different in different cultures and different time periods. There are also newer alternative lifestyles and timelines that are becoming popular from the promotion of social media and influencers. While, it is nice to see people challenging traditions and the status quo, believing in that you're supposed to follow any timeline still doesn't makes sense to me. More importantly, it appears to be detrimental to many people, causing them a multitude of problems, such as anxiety, insecurity, and sense of failure.

I believe in the importance of realizing that everyone can have their own timeline in life and do not need to subscribe to any existing ones (traditional nor alternative), of understanding the reality that people do have different timelines and that is okay, and of accepting that things don't always work out the way you'd hope and your ideal timeline might not play out perfectly - if you have an ideal timeline in life.

A lot of what I talk about in these blog posts is gaining perspective and questioning common beliefs, in order to develop an intimate, nuanced, and complete understanding of yourself and your desires. It is in your benefit to know what you actually want. If you do have an ideal timeline, whether traditional, alternative, or your original, you benefit from pinpointing what you actually get out of that timeline. Do you genuinely want to go enroll in some form of tertiary education right out of high school? Do you actually want to have your first child at 26 years old? Do you really want to retire "early"? What do you get out of doing things like this? What do you get out of doing these things at those specific times? How much social pressures exist for each of those things and how much are you influenced by them? Can you distinguish your true desires from those derived from the social pressures? Do you have desires that are fulfilled by subscribing to those social pressures? (because you may not want to face the consequences for not conforming and there are people who get a lot out of how others view their life). The point is that you benefit from knowing the answers to these questions and you consider the potential consequences of each of the options you have. What if you didn't go to university? What if you took a gap year or worked for a few years? What if you never have children, have them earlier, or have them later? What if you never retire or worked until a more traditional retirement age?

There may be traditional timelines in life that your parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, siblings, or government pushes. There may be alternative timelines that social media and influencers hype up. There may even be original timelines that you thought up and find interesting or like the idea of. However, at the end of the day, how you can live your "best" life is based on what you really want. It is up to you to look at all those options and ask questions like the ones I presented.

Finally, once again, it is always beneficial to keep in mind the pragmatic perspective that things may not work out perfectly or at all, which is one of the potential consequences of pretty much any option. If you are thinking about going to university at some point, you benefit from considering what would happen and what you might do if you do not get admission, if it takes longer to complete your program, or if you fail to meet the requirements to continue in your program. If you are thinking about having children at some point, it makes sense to think about how you may feel and what you might do if you are infertile, if having children affects various aspects of your life in various ways (career, relationships, social life, finances, hobbies, energy, time, etc), and if you lose your job/ability to financially support your children at various points in your/your children's future.

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