I had brunch with a close friend a couple weeks ago and she told me that her boyfriend’s sister recently got married. The wedding was beautiful and elaborate as most Indian weddings apparently are, but then what struck me was how old the couple was. She is 32 and he is 36. No, I’m not saying they’re too old to get married or anything like that. What I forgot to mention was they’re also both doctors at the pinnacle of their respective fields, namely cardiology and neurology. I know right?
On a similarly important note, the forever bachelor George Clooney got married to a gorgeous international and human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. The news sent everyone into a googling frenzy trying to figure out who this mysterious and seriously lucky woman is. And apparently, she’s not just a lawyer, she’s an internationally acclaimed barrister who has worked for the UN and has represented some of the most high profile cases. And yep, she’s only 36.
Now what do these two things have in common? They both momentarily gave me anxiety. Post-grad life has been a jumbled journey of self-doubt and confusion because I no longer have a curriculum to follow or a grade scale to conquer. My success can no longer be quantified by a number and progress can no longer be marked by the passing of a school year. Instead, we have these crazy successful people around us doing kick-ass stuff by a certain age. And these have become our markers.
It’s a scary enough question to ask: What if I can never be as successful as them? But an even scarier question is: What if I don’t want to be? Does it mean I’m content with mediocrity and destined to lead a sad, pathetic life?
No. Because 10 years ago, I had a different idea of where I was going to be, and at what level of success I was going to achieve, and the truth is, in a sense, I’ve failed. I thought I was going to be working a kick-ass job making the same kind of money my engineering friends are making and living with a gay roommate who will shop with me every weekend. But I’m not. And guess what? I’m okay. And what if I ended up fulfilling that marker I set for myself 10 years ago? Does that make me a successful person? No, because by the time I’ve reached that, I’ve probably set a much higher goal by now.
The most terrifying thing about leaving the school bus that has driven me from school and back for 16 years is now I’m prone to getting lost or taking detours. But I suppose that’s also the best part of it, because now, even if I get lost or wander endlessly on a rabbit trail, at least I’m the one behind the wheel.