Exactly 20 years ago I was accepted to law school. Graduated at the age of 24.
At the age of 35, I was already a lawyer with 10+ years of experience, mainly in suing people and fighting them in various courts. Due to a conflict in my family I even sued my mother at one point. I won’t get into detail here. Now my mom and I have the best relationship ever – it’s all true.
I was crushing it when it came to court fights.
Most people would say that even becoming a lawyer by itself was a lot. The prestige, the money, the future, the lifestyle. Usually people only want to know your “label” (‘lawyer’, ‘doctor’, ‘banker’) and it’s enough for them to say “Wow! Congratulations” or “Oh, well.”
It’s like a code for people. You’re always either a success, or a failure, never work in progress.
And what about all those people who never get any recognition for their work but don’t stop doing their thing?
The point of my answer is the following.
What does “I have not achieved much in life” actually mean? By what/ whose measure?
We really should care only about doing what we love, where our talents are, and doing it to the best of our abilities. Not catering to the expectations of the society, not worrying whether or not we will make our parents proud, or impress our high school friends. None of this bullshit.
At the age of 35 I decided that I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore and switched careers.
It’s fair to say that everything I worked for for the previous 15 years suddenly had little to no meaning. My law school diploma is just a piece of paper that means very little to people now that I don’t use it. I got rid of my label (’a lawyer’) and the people who I talk to can’t say “Wow!” upon meeting me for the first time. Now they are more likely to say “Oh, well”.
But now I know better.
It is an erroneous belief that there are certain things we should have accomplished / done by a certain age. Or that we need certain things (like accolades, nominations, invitations, etc.) for our work to matter.
I know that I don’t need to prove myself to anybody. I don’t need my work to be recognized by people. I don’t need accolades. I’m fine and I’ll be fine as long as I do my work every single day to the best of my abilities and if I’m able to provide for the basic needs of my family.
How about you?