You’re stranded in a desert. You haven’t had food or water in days and the sun is peeling you away from sanity. Everything begins to look appetizing. The spider-beetle and the jackrabbit would make for a nice meal if only you could catch one. Shadows in the distance become tantalizing mirages of water. The only thought is that of satisfaction, much like the hungry man at the Chinese buffet. Not having anything makes him want everything in sight. He takes a plate and fills it until there isn’t a sign of a plate at all. Roast beef, pineapple fried rice, mac and cheese, sushi, cornbread and a brownie à la mode. Sure, he’ll be full, but will he be satisfied? 

We attach personal ideals to the goals that we set, but it’s easy to become forgiving with those initial standards with time. On the eve of my 25th birthday, I was told that this year would bring with it new experiences, challenges and epiphanies. Why didn’t anyone warn me about the part where society makes you feel like shit if you aren’t “where you should be?” We’ve been conditioned to think that we need to accomplish certain things at certain ages. Pressure encourages comparison and comparison, more than often, influences your thoughts. After flipping through someone else’s Instagram posts, you suddenly don’t feel like you’re doing enough for yourself. Like the person in the desert and the guy at the buffet, everything [else] starts to look appealing. You start to  dispose of the things you think are weighing and slowing you down, disregarding that some of them are essential to your journey. 

This is an ode to pace because I think we all forget that it’s okay to go at your own. What may be for one may not be for another and someone’s beginning may be someone else’s middle. Don’t let your age define you or dictate where you “should be” in life. Validate your journey by sticking to your principles. Don’t allow anyone else’s success tell you that you’re not sufficient. If you honestly feel like you could be doing more to advance yourself, then do so, but don’t derail over stress. Stay on track. A steady foot doesn’t stumble, and slow and steady wins the race.

Art by Robin Champagne.