The Privilege of Perspective

“I always tell my mom, there’s no such thing as balance. Balance is the sum total of how you prioritize people, things and situations in your life…”

As many of you know, I recently graduated college, moved back home and have no job prospects at the moment. By today’s standards, I should be preparing to own a cat farm as a single woman for the rest of my life. LOL.

Basically, 16 year old me who was killing herself over the SATs and college applications, would give current me a large, profanity-laced piece of her mind for not living up to our supposed potential.

I have b*tched, moaned and groaned over this seeming injustice for many days. I put in the work and what now do I have to show for it? Everyone else on my Instagram appears to be the picture of success–the poster-children of USC post-grads–with their jobs, or extensive travel gap years or weddings. So where do I fit in to that venn diagram? I had a success;I graduated college, but I don’t feel successful.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who opened my eyes to the privileged position in which I am living right now. We were discussing our 20’s and the belief that  working extra hard and sacrificing the little things right now will lead to success later. As has been bred into me, I was quick to agree with him, until I realized I really didn’t. The more my friend talked, the more I started questioning the lie I had bought into.

Success will mean something different to almost everyone. But for most millennial Americans it normally has something to do with money. We’re encouraged to take whatever job we can that offers the most comfortable salary and enticing benefits package. No matter that you know your soul is being sucked out of your body every time you step into that office. Or that you feel like your life hasn’t actually progressed even though you’ve gotten older.

But what if there’s more? Because what is life without love and what is success without someone with which to share it? In the age of selfies and social media, we’re so focused on outside things to make us look successful that we completely negate what’s inside.

What will money do to fix a broken person? How will that job promotion repair your broken marriage or partnership? When will you actually stop trudging forward through life and take some time to get healthy?

I say all of this coming from a privileged place, and I use the word privilege knowing full-well how many people just rolled their eyes. There are those of you that take exception to the word “privilege” (pun intended), especially when a young person like myself uses it. What if I told you, however, that the actual definition of privilege is the one I’m using here, today? According to Miriam Webster, the word privilege is defined as:  “A right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favorprerogative;  especially:   such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office…” In other words, I have been granted an immunity from certain responsibilities as a particular benefit to my emotional health.

I am able to take the time now, without consequence to said responsibilities, to evaluate myself. To look back on the past four years and attempt to understand some of the absolute dumb decisions I made, and to now genuinely take the time to consider what my purpose is on this earth.

You see, to me, success has nothing to do with money, or accolades or material things–while I still do very much like all of those things–it has way more to do with the health of my relationships with others and myself. Am I loving myself effectively so I can properly love others?  I am blessed enough to have the resources and space to actually get some perspective on these things, to set myself up to not only live, but to thrive.

Not everyone is like me, and I understand that. Having this kind of perspective is a privilege. Some of you had to take the first job that came your way because of pressing responsibilities, some of you have inordinate pressure from family; whatever the reason, you feel as if you just don’t have time. And hey, aren’t our 20’s supposed to be about reckless decisions and making mistakes just to learn from them?

Sure, you could waste the time when you’re your most energetic, healthy, and attractive on nothing–30 is the new 20, right? Or you could channel all of that youth into healthy choices.

You can let go of that relationship that has made you a shell of your former self. You could start to look for a new job in a field that doesn’t make you want to drive off a cliff during your morning commute. You could downsize, reevaluate your finances, even *gasp* go on a budget so you could take the missionary or volunteer position with that organization you love.

You can start going to therapy. Start cooking. Go to the gym. Take a walk outside. Get a puppy. Read a book. Go to church. Say a prayer. Do some yoga. Meditate.

Whatever it is that’s been calling you. Whatever has been filling your daydreams during unnecessary meetings and traffic. Do it, do it now. Make time for it. There’s always enough hours in the day if you prioritize them correctly. I always tell my mom, there’s no such thing as balance. Balance is the sum total of how you prioritize people, things and situations in your life. You are your biggest asset. And so is your time. Your life is the success story. Go out and live it; life doesn’t stop, we do.

Go out and get some perspective,

Ali