The illusion of a timeline
Written by: Khadeja
Graduate from college by 21, immediately start a fabulous career, get married by your mid-twenties, have babies before your thirties, and retire in your sixties.
Somehow this timeline has been the measuring stick against which we are measured by society and culture. And, somehow, we have blindly accepted it without questioning. I used to have the road map of my life planned out, and it was loosely based on societal norms. But as I grew older and life got messier, I started to question the validity of my ideals. After much soul searching, I realized that the only thing holding me back from achieving my goals and dreams was me. More specifically, it was the mental blocks that I put in place over the years. These blocks came from my views of what was right and wrong, many of which had no root in my faith – as they should – but rather in what culture dictated to me.
This might be fine if you end up living your entire life in one country within one culture, but in our day and age we rarely stay put in one physical environment. So why carry around mental baggage that you collected from various ‘airports’ that don’t necessarily reflect what you really believe to be true? With this in mind, I began the process of consciously weeding through my beliefs and values and trying to figure out what my personal opinions are, taking into consideration my faith and only that. I totally disregarded the views of my parents, family, friends, and peers, because, most people’s opinions are open to interpretation and I wanted to decide my views for myself.
The pressure of that culturally accepted timeline caused me to go through a phase of giving up on my dreams, as I felt it was ‘too late’ to accomplish anything, except maybe starting a family and devoting my life to them. This is a noble cause in itself, but we are women of a generation that wants more. We want to be fulfilled, not by people or by material things, but by accomplishments and ambitions. My ultimate goal is to be so-well rounded that I’m practically an orange.
What is age but a number? Let’s break through the time-based expectations of society and remove the term ‘age-appropriate’ from our dictionary, because we should decide on our own deadlines for achieving fulfillment