By JACLYN ABERGA
People around me have always told me that I need to achieve certain accomplishments in life by a certain age to be considered successful. By 17, I should now what I want to be when I grow up because that will dictate the course I want to take in college. By the time I graduate at 21, I should secure a job that pays well. By the time I’m in my late 20s, I should have met the one I want to spend the rest of my life with and get married and have kids before I turn 30. I need to reach a certain status or management level by 35. I need to have my own house by 40. I need to have these predetermined sets of things by a certain age as dictated by society.
But wait. Why do other people get to decide how I’m supposed to live my life?
Yes, some women want to live their lives according to the schedule above and that’s great for them if that’s what they want. But for the majority of women around the world, that’s not what we want. We want to decide what to do with our life according to how we want to live it.
When I was 20, I made a plan of what I want my life to be by the time I was 30. And it included the same things. Get a job by 21. Move up the ranks by 25. Meet the love of my life by 25. Married by 30. Oh, if only life were this predictable all the time.
But life also throws us a curveball, especially when we get too comfortable. I was already 23 and had yet to land a fulltime job, let alone move up the ranks by 25. Instead, I opened my first business at 23 with my sister, which led to opening up more businesses after that, cementing my status in life as a serial entrepreneur.
I changed my life plan three more times after that. In 2008, I left to take my master’s degree abroad, where I lived alone and learned to push myself past my limits every day, and embraced change and uncertainty. Then again in 2012, after coming back to Manila, when I took on another challenge to fight for an issue close to my heart. And once again in 2018, I am creating a new life again, at 37, using what I’ve learned over the years to create a better life to empower others.
What is my point?
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and step into your courage zone. When you realize at a point in your life that you’re not in alignment with what you need to be doing, stop and recalculate. Where should you go?
You will surprise yourself with the things you’ll be able to do, with the things you’ll learn, and with the realizations, you’ll make when you are in your courage zone. I talk to a lot of women every day, online and offline, and so many of them express fear, hesitation, and uncertainty when it comes to breaking away from the norm. Some feel they’re too old, or too late, or believe it’s not for them.
Do you know who says that? It’s you. It’s the voices inside your head. Yes, sometimes, people around you say it. But who says you have to listen to them? Is your life their life to control?
Remember, you were not put here on this earth to simply go to the office, do your work, and pay your bills. There’s more to you than just that life. That doesn’t mean to quit your job though. It means finding ways to push you out of your comfort zone and into your courage zone to make a difference. Even if you’re in your current job, how can you push yourself into your courage zone?
This isn’t limited to women with privilege. Even if you live paycheck to paycheck, you can still step out of your comfort zone. Volunteer. Serve. Help others with your time and talent.
Stop letting society dictate to you how you should live your life. It’s your life. You should be the one writing the story that you want. Stop letting others tell you what your life should be. I promise you, your kids, your grandkids, and your nieces and nephews will be so proud of you for choosing to chase your dreams and not the dreams other people have for you.