Walking a different path has gifted me some of the best experiences of my life.
Someone once asked me why I felt so insecure about working as a freelancer in between jobs. He said, "Why do you feel bad about it? It's because everyone else has a full-time office gig right now, and you don't. But if everyone was working in a farm every day you would feel insecure about not milking cows, too."
It's only natural to want to do what everyone else is doing. Even though I was growing as a person, expanding my mind, portfolio, and making connections, I felt like I was screwing up my life. In society's eyes, I was off because I wasn't a Siamese twin to a gloomy office chair.
Every day felt wrong solely because I was comparing my life to others instead of just focusing on myself. But walking a different path has made me brave and gifted me some of the best experiences of my life.
As Albert Einstein once said, "The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before." So try not to stress too much when your life decisions start turning a different shade of success than everyone else's.
Here are four reasons why living a life others don't understand is better than living a life you don't actually like. They also double as reminders to ease your mind when you start questioning your own off the beaten path.
1. Success is in the eye of the beholder.
Life doesn't come with instructions, and it's certainly not a one-size fits all type of deal. Luckily, even though there's no "how to" guide on how to live every day, we at least have control over what we do with our time on this blue and green spinning marble.
So if you want to do things like travel the world, then go for it. I did. I might not have made 100K this year, but by 24 I have been to 16 countries, paid off my student loans, and worked a full-time job all with money in the bank. To me, that is a major accomplishment.
Recently, a lot of my friends probably look at me weird because they are settling into the white-picket fence life. There's nothing wrong with that, but right now I prefer passports stamps and working off the clock.
2. Salaries are nice, but memories are priceless.
Supposedly, we ride this merry-go-round of life once, so we might as well pick to ride it how we want. Everyone else can ride the lame carousel horse, but I'm going to go ahead and ride that giraffe.
Unfortunately, making money is essential in this world, but making a lot of it and never taking time to celebrate progress has never made sense to me. Once I have enough dough in the bank, I bake with it. In other words, I make sure to spend it on trips with family and friends.
A day at Six Flags with my cousins, or a trip to Thailand with my friends means more to me than some title ever could. Because when my life flashes before my eyes I want to see monuments, and wonders, not screens and coffee machines.
3. People don't live forever.
Even though corporate America likes to treat people like robots, not enough oil in the world can make someone last forever. Immortality can't be bought, and unfortunately, the people who raised you are not exempt from this rule.
During my time freelancing I try to see my grandparents and spend as much time with my family as I can. Worries of what others are doing quickly become silenced once I realize that even though bringing home the bacon is nice, it's far nicer to have someone to eat with.
4. There's no set timeline for growth.
Unlike plants, sunlight and water don't cut it for people when it comes to maturation. For humans, each one needs his or her own something in order to get by and live a happy, healthy life. My something is writing. So even though I sometimes get anxiety about not working full-time at this very moment, I'm still pursuing my conventional goals and dreams in an unconventional way.
Besides, people blossom when it's their time, and I trust that I will too, because when I was a little girl I learned that "the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all."