I remember when I was at sixth form college, and the pressure I felt to apply to university. I’d decided that university wasn’t for me, I wanted to start working in the hospitality industry, which was my passion. Many of my classmates and teachers didn’t understand why I wasn’t applying for university, because that was what ‘the next step’ was in my education. I even had to prepare a personal statement and start an application, although I had no intention of going to university. It was like my education until then had been preparing me for university and, at times, it felt like I was the odd one out not wanting to go.
Fast forward three years down the line and I’ve now started university, because now is the right time for me. At 21, I’m a first-year student as many of my friends have either already graduated or are about to graduate this summer – at times it felt like I could have been like them if I’d just gone to university straight after sixth form college, leading me to question why I’d waited.
One thing I was reminded of, however, was that we’re all on our own paths. For me, taking a few years out to work and develop myself as a person before going to university was what was right for me; for some of my friends going straight to university after sixth form college was the right thing; and for other friends working full-time with no plan to go to university is the right thing!
In the Bible, there’s a verse that says ‘Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time’ (Ecclesiastes Ch.3:11). This verse is a reminder that all the different paths we may take are beautiful and are what are intended for us.
We often compare ourselves to others, including what point of life we’re at and our successes, but life isn’t for comparing. Social media can make things worse, it’s so easy to compare to what others are doing while scrolling through, but these are only their highlights. We shouldn’t compare, because our lives aren’t one size fits all with a standard mould. There’s a quote that says:
‘Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time’ (unknown).
I think this quote is a reminder that we all need, a reminder that there’s no set ‘right way’ to do things, we might do things at different points in life, or we might not even do the same things as our friends. We can’t compare our lives, because they’re different and that’s the way it’s meant to be.
Each of us have a different plan, and it’s ok not to know what that is or what the next step involves but we should never use our lives to measure our success compared to others.
Next time you’re thinking about how someone has achieved something quicker than you, or you think they’re more successful because of what they’ve done, just remember that life isn’t a race, and it isn’t one size fits all – each of us are unique and so are our lives and journeys.