To those who travels, we are very used to navigating ourselves through a map, thanks to the advancement of technology and Google Map! We power up the app, turn on our GPS location setting, and slowly navigate through to reach our destination. The journey may be long and arduous but we often have milestones along the way to assure us that we are heading the right direction.
Someone had drew that map for you and told you that this is the road map that you should follow to reach your destination. You took it in without any doubts as everyone else is using the same map as reference. You study the map conscientiously and grew familiar with each of the milestone in that map. You work hard and try to hit all of them, thinking that the more you hit, the closer you are to your destination. Now imagine with me…. On the road map you had always thought yourself to be on, you could not locate yourself – you are not on the map!
The picture above is an example of what I get when I searched for ‘human life-stage’ on Google. It represents the model of a ‘successful life’ as defined by our society. You grow up, study hard, graduate with a degree, get a well paying job, buy a car, get married, buy a house and start a family of your own, retire, grow old, deteriorate in health and eventually die peacefully. Many of us are born into this road map. We were told and presented with this road map growing up and often benchmark ourselves using these key milestones or events in life.
More and more increasingly in the last few years, I find myself lost in this road map. While trying very hard to live each day, I wasn’t sure where life was heading for me with reference to the path laid out by this ‘successful life’ road map. Unlike most of my friends, I did not progressed onto some of the milestones or events as depicted in the ‘successful life’ model. My life took a different turn and my life path is just different from most of the people around me. I could not locate myself on this road map. It is a feeling of lagging behind mixed with the feeling of misfit and you feel yourself floating around unsure of what is left to this ‘unconventional’ life. According to the road map above, at my current age, I should have been married with maybe a few children, own a vehicle and a house big enough for a family of 5. I should be enjoying motherhood and building a family, and to make it more Christian, building Godly family and actively serving and rising through the ranks of leadership within the local church. None of that is happening for me. Here I find myself alone at a complete different path, unmarried, not serving in the local church and struggling daily living with a chronic condition. Where do I place myself on the road map? There is no place for me there.
One day, I suddenly thought to myself. “This is ridiculous. No way have I not grown in this lifetime.” If you are talking about changes and life experiences, I think I have accumulated enough to make this life rich. However, if I benchmark myself against the ‘successful life’ road map, I am a misfit. This cannot be! The moment of epiphany came when I realized that I have been bench-marking my life on a wrong road map. This road map that everyone is using is not what I am suppose to reference as a successful life. It explains why I can’t place myself anywhere there. I have to find the real road map in which I am suppose to use. But first, I need to do some homework. I need to remember where I’d come from, where I am now and where I am supposed to head from here. I do not yet have the answer or even a glimpses of how the real road map is supposed to look like, but what is clear to me is that the ‘successful life’ road map that the society celebrates is not the road map of Life. On the contrary, the celebrated milestones on the road map distracts us from finding the real road map of Life. I am made for something more.
May I find clarity…