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There's endless pressure from all sides: our culture, the media, your loved ones all purport the need to chase an extraordinary standard in every aspect of life.
We're urged to travel the world, while simultaneously working our way to professional success – all to get married to the perfect partner, buy a home and raise kids.
A picture-perfect adulthood isn't realistic. The goal posts will keep moving and we're never without the next best thing we should be doing on the path to growing into our next best selves.
It's a challenge not to feel as though finding yourself has been turned into a competitive sport. When the pursuit of extraordinary is the status quo, that's a game set up for many to lose. The solution is to turn away from constant comparison and instead focus on finding fulfillment and identity on your own terms.
What we might find is that the big questions: 'What matters to me? Who am I going to be in the world?' – have ordinary answers. Maybe it's embracing the pursuit of those answers that leads us to growth and shows us who we can grow into.
To rework your perception of the perfect life, it's important to understand and acknowledge the privilege of being able to pick and choose your plans for the future in the first place. Leaving your job to "follow your dreams" or moving to a new state aren't opportunities available for everyone.
An ordinary life isn't something to be ashamed of. Constant comparison is ruining our health and making us live in chronic anxiety.
We're all impacted in both big and small ways by our own social context, so the road and the finish line will look different for everyone. But embracing your personal ordinariness doesn't mean you have to think small.
The problem with finding your passion, or your dream job is that this kind of insidious mentality can actually keep us from critiquing the labor structure that we're existing in.
Our passion and dream job can actually prevent us from pushing for better work-life balance or policies that would improve our work life and our overall health and wellbeing, and critiquing the larger systems of labor that keep us working.
One of those reasons is the common trope that moving to a new city to start over will jumpstart an extraordinary life.
This notion can be incredibly disenfranchising for people who don't have the bandwidth or resources to move to a place to see what happens. When you're feeling unsettled or alone, establish routines that give you a sense of stability and keep open lines of communication with your loved ones.
A partnership may enrich your life, but If romance doesn't fit right now, nothing is wrong with you, and you have a choice either way.
No matter where your relationships fall between those two poles, it's important to remember that this time of your life is formative. Each relationship can teach us how to love someone, how to be intimate with someone, what we want out of a partner. Or, on the more negative side, can teach us about what we don't want, or the danger of not exercising our own agency with a partner.
We're going to find ways to embrace our most ordinary selves. That can be as simple as logging off your computer 15 minutes early, calling a friend even if you still have items on your to-do list or being kind to yourself when you fall short of your own expectations.
Being able to renegotiate what matters to you, solve problems, and learn to trust yourself are ordinary things with remarkable power.
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