There’s this idea I’ve always found intriguing that you have your entire life to make your debut and only a couple of years to follow it up. It’s lowkey trippy. A heavy, almost instantaneous weight is placed on your shoulders right after having an ample amount of time to gather a multitude of experiences for your initial output to the world. It seems that time isn’t a luxury that us post-millennials are afforded, though, because that giant weight on our shoulders burdens us at all times. We constantly feel like we’re running out of time. There’s no room for failure. None at all.
If you scroll down your Twitter or Instagram timeline at any given moment, you’re likely to stumble across someone “famous” that’s the same age as you — sometimes for no reason at all. Naturally it may discourage you and you might wonder what exactly it is that you’re doing wrong. That’s okay, I’ve been in the same position. The realization that our own peers are doing better than us may lead us to believe that we aren’t working hard enough because, let’s be honest, we all deserve those followers. We all deserve those likes. We all deserve those retweets. We all deserve that clout. Thus, the nerve-wracking phenomena of being “slept on.”
Social media has had a major hand in this underlying pressure for success at an early age, to the point where it feels like a necessity. If you’re not prospering before, like, twenty-five, you’re failing — and like I said, there’s no room for failure. Great expectations, word to Charles Dickens.
I’ve been listening to “Time’s a Wastin’” by Erykah Badu a lot lately to remind myself to work with a sense of urgency. Putting my phone on “do not disturb” and unintentionally ignoring the messages of loved ones to focus more. Giving myself nonexistent arbitrary deadlines to get shit done. Writing, writing, writing. During the eighteen years I’ve been alive, I’ve accomplished a lot. But “a lot” isn’t enough. There’s so much I wanna do — so much I have to do — and so little time to do it all. In order to be considered successful, I need to be on the same level as (or surpass) the other kids my age who are doing better. Right?
The truth is, nah.
Social media has had a major hand in this underlying pressure for success at an early age, to the point where it feels like a necessity.
While the pressure for early success looms continuously like a grey cloud over everyone’s head, you shouldn’t feel the need to rush yourself to compete with your peers. Never procrastinate, but don’t rush it. You’ve got time. Trust. Oprah was 32 when her show first aired. Ava Duvernay didn’t get her big breakthrough until she was 40. Kanye dropped The College Dropout when he was 26. 2 Chainz blew up when he was 34. What I’m trying to say is, trust the process.
I know it may feel like you aren’t working hard or fast enough when you see the position that other people are already in, but try to tuck that feeling away. If you’re in a creative field like myself, don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re being overlooked. People won’t take notice until you give them a reason to take notice. It’s better to shoot out one quality piece of work rather than twenty subpar blanks. Have a good work ethic, for sure, but focus that energy towards something meaningful and worthwhile. Stay in your own lane and don’t get caught up in this Internet shit.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race.