Keep your eyes on your prize, not someone else’s

Wait till you’re older. That’s what children are often told as they’re growing up to console them when they want things they cannot have due to their age – such as alcohol, a driver’s license or the chance to go to college.

I was such a child, in a hurry to grow up, wanting what I couldn’t have yet. As a child – and even as an adult – the feeling of being left behind when everyone else is zooming past at a million miles an hour can be quite frustrating.

Many people (myself included) have this semi-insane need to plan out each aspect of their lives, always getting their “ducks in a row” for the next step. In eighth grade, I was the kid who studied the high school course booklet front and back, having my classes picked weeks before my classmates did.

While this approach may work from birth to senior year in college, it tends to create more hassle than peace of mind. This is because the time prior to one’s graduation from college is nearly always filled with uncertainties, such as the questions of where one will live and work. Still, this urge to plan and keep pace with everyone else does not go away at this stage of life, especially when it comes to relationships.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for nearly six and a half years – yes, I’m serious. We started dating when I was 15 and he was 16, so obviously, we weren’t going to be getting married after a year of dating. We have put a lot – and continue to put a lot – into our relationship. It hasn’t been easy. What can make it even more maddening, at least for me, is the fact that people who have been dating for less time than we have are beating us to the altar. It’s not that I’m not happy for my friends – I just want so badly to experience that same kind of happiness.

Part of the reason my boyfriend and I have not taken the plunge yet is that we wish to be stable in our careers and finances first. This is reasonable goal – it’s what works for us. That’s what I had to keep telling myself when logging on to my Facebook account and seeing two more of my friends had become engaged.

In the midst of my happiness/disbelief, I decided to cling to my faith in God. I had to remember that He is behind everything: things happen in His time, not mine. He’s in control and I am not. For someone who is always in planning mode like me, relinquishing that control is more difficult than it sounds. I just have to remember that through constant communication through prayer, He’ll tell me what I need to do.

Some may not have such a faith in God or another higher power, and those that do may not feel ready to relinquish control of their life to their respective higher powers. These people must remember that in the long run, life is not about keeping pace with others, though MTV may tell them otherwise. Everyone does not operate at the same speed and what works for one person does not always work for the next. Besides that, after an extended period of time, craning one’s neck to take a look at what everyone else is doing can be downright tiring.

So the next time someone else gets a promotion – and along with it, a six-figure salary – or someone else is about to have a baby when you and your significant other have been wanting one for quite some time, be happy for them (genuinely happy) and take heart that what you desire will come to you in time. Be patient.

When someone’s lost their keys and they’re looking for them like mad, it’s not until after they calm down a bit and stop scrambling that they tend to find them. That’s what life is like – when we stop scrambling, we find what we’ve ultimately been looking for.

Amanda Whitsitt is a senior majoring in mass communications.