In 2013 the awesome/hilarious/perfect youtuber Meekakitty, Tessa Violet, posted a video called "on getting older."
In this video Tessa is just about to turn 23 years old and she reflects on coming to terms with that fact. I am sure everyone reading this just groaning at this statement. Coming to terms with turning 23? Give me a break...
... but I get it.
At this point in her life, Tessa has already done some seriously incredible things (not just saying that, read her wikipedia page). She explains how she has always dreaded getting older because her achievements always felt more and more worthless in proportion to the age she was when she achieved them
....and I get it. Is my success still worth something if it doesn't happen right away, while I am young enough for people to be impressed? Well, when you write it out like that, the answer is a resounding, "duh," but sometimes it isn't easy to remember that.
I remember being 19 when I watched the video and thinking, "oh well, that is good for you, but I am happy I am not 23 yet.... I still have time to get it all done before then." I didn't even know what it was at that point, but I was just chasing the ever elusive success.
Well, here I am. 23 years old, in a cafe in Cambodia, confident in my choices but scared it is already too late to achieve success.
Even though I am only 23, poised with practically my entire life ahead of me, I often think it is already too late. I have missed the bus on everything I want to do.
Be a successful travel journalist? Well, I should have skipped college and started traveling right after high school because I am miles behind everyone else who is doing it. I didn't study English in college. Will I ever catch up? I should give up.
I think a lot of people feel this way. When the media only reports the stories of the people who achieved success overnight, or became millionaires in their early twenties, it is easy to be discouraged.... and let's face it - quitting is easier.
It is really, really hard to remember that success can come from years of hard work and determination. Success can come after a total mid-life career change, and then years of hard work and determination. I guess sometimes success doesn't come at all... but you can't know that until you try.
And what even is success anyways? I hate that word. Let's use happiness and complacency instead.
These stories, the real ones about chugging along despite feeling like you have already missed your chance, are more profound than the overnight sensation ones.... and there is still time for all of them. There is still time. There is still time. Hey you! No matter your age or your dream, there is still time.
Take a deep breath.... it is not too late and it doesn't have to happen tomorrow.
So what made me realize this?
The cafe I am currently posted up at in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is filled with ex-pats. It is an ex-pat spot. This place was opened by some Aussies and is inspired by the Melbourne cafe scene. The coffee and wifi are strong, and everyone here is working on laptops, or discussing work related things with other expats in suits. Some are writing, like me.... but others are studying. Some are gaming. Others are chatting with friends, their motorbike helmets precariously perched on the table.
There are so many of them. So many people came here, to Cambodia, to live their lives. Maybe it was to achieve a dream. Maybe it is to study. Maybe it was because their significant other was doing it. Maybe they just needed a change....
...but they are all here. Was moving to Cambodia always part of the plan? I highly, highly doubt it, considering that just 9 years ago Phnom Penh had dirt roads and no ATMs. If you are doing work on a macbook pro and drinking a flat white coffee, I assume you like ATMS.
I am probably the only person in the world to ever be inspired by a room full of white people on macbook pros.... but, there is just something so inspiring about seeing a room full of people who made such a drastic change to their life, for whatever reason.
There is still time.
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