Own Your Path
We all seem to be on similar paths in life, especially at school, work, and home. It often feels like our road has a great deal in common with the trajectories of the people with whom we spend most of our time. It is easy to perceive a few common paths that we can take and to see these all as preordained and mapped out. But in reality, there is an infinite number of paths and we each walk our own. Still, many of us spend a good deal of time either trying to emulate the paths of others or fretting that our current path is not “good enough.” There is really only one way forward and, so often, people only realize what this is late in life.
It is terribly tempting for us to look at the life trajectories of other people and think that we should have the same experience and travel the same path. When we don’t end up on the same route, many times, as conditioned by society, we feel inadequate. We also tend to follow other people to places where those other people are happy, rather than strike out on our own. It is safer to follow the same path as another who we admire or who has the success that we want for ourselves than to forge our own way through life.
This does not work.
The problem with the above strategy is that no matter how hard we deny it and try to take the well-trodden and proven paths, we all take a different path. Often we don’t realize this till later in life. This lack of understanding seems strange, given that it is obvious that we all perceive the world differently and have completely different experiences from moment to moment. Yet, I have many times caught myself comparing my path to those around me (even though I consider myself fairly independent.) I think that it is human nature, part of a basic need to belong. And in trying to belong, we attempt to be like others.
But we also have to know that society needs all types of people to function and to be resilient. A multifaceted society is a society that can adapt and evolve. If a society becomes homogeneous it, like a non-adapting organism, is doomed to eventual extinction. We know this (the variability of organisms) to be a key part of evolution. Without variability, organisms won’t evolve and when something kills off one member, it is highly likely to kill off all the others.
We need variability to survive as a species.
We need variability in our human societies so they can survive and thrive.
Since every person’s path is different from every other person’s, then YOUR path is your own. Every moment of your time in this plane of existence is uniquely yours. You might as well own your path. You can’t have another one. No one else can have yours. You should embrace all of your life because all paths come with both good and bad and both facets shape us into who we are.
I decided in my 28th year that I would own my path. I decided to be proud of my path. Because every twist and turn, every stumble, every fall, every victory, every success, every cliff I’ve had to scale has led me to the latest moment. And i’ve come to realize that every latest moment is the most important moment, in my life.
Own your path. It is the only way forward.
We can’t have a path that is filled with only perfect and desirable moments. Then life would be boring and we would never grow, never rise to new and unexpected heights. Just as we need good things to happen to us to give us a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, I believe that we need adversity to keep us sharp and to help us develop as human beings. Life is a study in contrasts. Without the bitter, we don’t really know what sweet tastes like. We need both to have a complete experience.
What if the temperature was always at exactly 72˚ F? If that was the case then we would never “feel” heat or cold. Without changes, there would be no need for a sensory system with the ability to interpret temperature. We would not have evolved to sense heat and cold since in theory there would be no such thing.
I realize that I should be thankful my life experiences are varied and diverse. Without that variety, life would dull. Without the troubles and toil, there would be no triumph. That’s why I am thankful for every aspect of my path. It’s why I own my path. And why I encourage you to own yours.