I have had a mental timeline for my life (don’t laugh): I would graduate college at 21 (check), get my masters’ at 23, have a kick-ass career by 25 (and be financially stable), get engaged 26-27, get married 27-28, and have my first baby at 31.5. I know, I know. Ridiculous.
Having goals is what motivates us. Let me clarify that marriage and children were not my most important goal. I just have had it imprinted in my brain that those things must come after stable career (I still do).
I have known what I’ve wanted to do for a living since I was a kid.
But I have also, like many people, had unrealistic expectations of how fast my goals should be achieved. Between having the lavish lives of young celebrities being shoved down our throats and parents praising Leily Khanoom’s nephew, who got a job on Wall Street upon graduation, there is a lot of pressure to look at our own direction and analyze how fast we’re going. Especially, if we haven’t chosen the doctor/lawyer/engineer route. The bar is constantly being raised just a little bit higher.
I’ve had this silly notion that if I haven’t made it by my mid-20’s, then that would mean “failure”.
But what is failure?
It’s not being financially unstable. It’s not being unmarried. It’s giving up your dreams. It’s settling and being unhappy. Everyone struggles in the beginning. Doctors have to go through years of med school and residency before they can be actual doctors. Lawyers have to win several cases in order to prove hirable. Managers always start out at the bottom of the company chain. Actors must live paycheck to paycheck for several years until they score a significant role. You get it. But over and over in my brain, I’ve still been freaking out. What if I can’t ever hold a stable career as an actress/screenwriter? Being a performer may not have an endpoint—it’s totally up to fate. What if I end up in destitute and my parents become ashamed of me and I stay husband-less and become a joke to the community and everyone else and—and—
I’ve been visiting my hometown undergraduate college (where I also got accepted for graduate school) and all I can think to myself as I walk around is how much I don’t want to be returning there in the Fall. I’ve been so dead-set on finishing my education all at once, that I’m having a hard-time wrapping my head around taking off from school for a year or so and working until I get another chance at attending a graduate school for something that I do want. I told one of my good friends about going back to school for my “back-up” and she just looked at me as if I was crazy and said, “So what do you want to be? A degree-collector?”
For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either go for it and risk failure (like, serious failure) or continue a path that I’m not really interested in. I am content with the fact that I might not get married until my 30’s. Maybe I won’t even have kids. And if I’m not successful by Persian or even American community standards by a specific age or even at all, so what?
I just need to muster up the courage to chase my dream.
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