“Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which one fits best?” — Sylvia Plath
Throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) or in other words, lockdown due to COVID-19 this year, I have been thinking a lot. The things I read, the things I watch, the people I converse with. It all invokes this big question to myself:
What do I want out of this life?
I began to question myself even more. What is it that I truly want and what is it that will make me happy? Is being happy really what I want out of this life? Of course this is a question I ask myself purely out of my own seeking-for-purpose other than the religious one. Religious one, is a long standing priority for me, and it is a completely, purely personal and spiritual in nature, which I will not touch in this post, at least not yet in my journey to unveil the complexity of life.
So I began to think of the many ways life could turn out to be. We are so used to subscribe to the idea of what society deems as “how life should be” or the society measures of “a successful life”. Which basically means:
- Get a good education, i.e. minimum is a Bachelors Degree
- Get a good paying job, i.e. working with high paying salaries or be entrepreunerial
- Get married
- Have kids
- Grow old with a big amount in your retirement fund
Of course not to lie, that for anyone that thinks up to just the surface of life, or to those who just want to go with it, seems doable, simple and to the point. It’s a basic guideline to how life can turn out to be. But not exactly how everyone’s measure of success in life should be.
Success is defined by the eyes of the beholder, much like beauty. These things, are subjective. We are all not created equal. We all have different capacity to live, to love, to feel, to think, to listen, different things make us tick, different things make us happy, and ultimately each of our fate and destiny is different from one another. I can’t help but to believe and think to myself, what I felt most people might not have done, is to actually take a step back to reflect and tell themselves this:
Each of us has a choice; to subscribe to the typical life-guideline, or to go out and explore what truly fits us.
So I wanted to explore, what other ways can life turn out to be? Maybe by listing the possibilities that I could actually simulate in my head, might help me to see which one fit me better, or fit you better? Neither of them are better than the other, but doing this, I hope I will be able to simply see and explore the various ways of how life can turn out to be:
- Typical Life by Society Measures: – is what I have explained earlier on, the sequence as the above. The majority of the people who go through life on autopilot sits in this scenario. To some, they are living with the society’s validation in mind, to fit into what “success” looks like. Of course to majority of people, raising their children taught them a lot more about love and life and I will never discount that. Raising another human being is such a noble thing, to me. Hence, raising a decent human being is one of the few key successes or achievements in ‘my definition of success’. But that does not necessarily mean that is something we all should/must work towards. This post is trying to explore potential scenarios of how life can turn out to be, so let us not jump to make a decision right now before seeing the rest of the potentials below. Growing old with an expanded family, since their kids will start having their own family. The exact definition of the more the merrier, especially when it comes to festive seasons.
- The Career Driven Type 1: – the people who feels utmost fulfilled when achieving a certain status in their career, a certain height/level on the corporate ladder. There are various way this Career Driven life could turn out too, hence I am going to explore the different types of scenarios. Let us put Type 1 as the pretty conventional one. Inclining towards the Typical Life above, but let us separate them by giving this Type 1 to be the kind that choose not to get married or have kids. They are perfectly fine having a companion by their side, to cherish and enjoy the successes and wealth coming from this. Also growing old together, with lesser stress of having to raise another being, but most likely having to result to paying a caretaker when they get old and grey due to not having their own kids to care for them.
- The Career Driven Type 2: – similar to Type 1, they get their high and happiness from a fulfilling career. However, let us give Type 2 the kind of person who wants a no strings attached (NSA). Let us face it, some people just prefer it that way. No commitment, simply a good time. They are independent and strong enough to be dealing with their own emotions and life, and wealthy enough to be spending their emotional/psychologial wellbeing at the best therapist they can pay/get. This type of life is where their immediate family and friends might be the lucky ones, as they might splurge on them; buy them gifts, take them on a grandeur holidays simply to have a good time with the people they actually care about.
- The Experience Seeker: – this is one of the most unconventional type, I feel. I am still struggling to see how this scenario will turn out as I have not really heard (yet met) of an example of this person just yet. The first 3 I listed above, I have a few people in mind and have met/seen and converse with them at their late 40s life, in that situation. Which is why I could lay it out very clearly some of the potential scenarios of how it might turn out. This one, however, is one I am still trying to explore. Somehow today it hit me. It hit me that maybe all I want in life is just experiences. Which is why this post came about. So let me try to simulate it… The Experience Seeker is the kind that appreciate the Typical Life but is too hungry to see what else can he/she achieve if they go beyond the norm. How I imagine it to be is not settling, but instead exploring and landing a companion that show them a different world. A partner in life that offer a completely different life experience than what they are used to; a way to experience life from a different perspective. Flourishing from the learnings they get based on their encounters in life. They might not pursue to “make” their partner marry them, but instead let things flow by enjoying the surprises that life has to offer. Leaving marriage to a complete fate, where when their partner found them and is so in awe by their being, they would not want to let this rarity go and pursue to make the Experience Seeker their life partner. And if the Experience seeker choose not to get married, they might be contented having a companion and family & friends to share their wealth of knowledge, experiences and learnings in hope that it will make a difference in someone’s life. Always the one that has the charm and charisma, and believe that life is awesome as it is.
The Experience Seeker is the mode I feel that I can resonate with the most, right now. I want to see where this path might lead me to. I am hopeful and curious to see how it will turn out. I will admit that being pursued to be married, will always be something I am a fond of and hope for. But right now, I choose to let it happen organically. I want a companion that I enjoy to be with, explore life experiences with, and if he decided that I am too good to be let go and want to marry me, then yes, I am open to that. But that marriage thing, should come solely from him. Not me trying to ask or play mind games to lead him to it. It is something I feel none of us ladies should chase after. In syaa Allah I believe it will turn out beautiful! I will let my future self decide on this much later and write a Part II of this story. Write and share how it turns out and what I genuinely felt about it. Is it something worth to consider, does it lead to fulfilment in life, does it make me happy?
Meanwhile, I am still working to detach myself from my younger-self’s expectation of having the Typical Life by Society Measure goals that I have made much much earlier on, which at almost turning 30 this year, I have yet to reach some of it. So, I am hopeful that there is another path that I can now explore. One that seems exciting but just as scary because I have yet to be able to see how it might affect society’s perspective/view of me, and how much that might affect my self esteem. I am confident right now to say, I will not be affected by it. But truthfully, none of us are truly ready for the emotions that might come with what we thought of earlier on. But I am hopeful and excited to see how this will turn out In syaa Allah.
Of course based on Harvard 80-years research on happiness, it did outline that having a good relationship, is what keeps us to be happier and healthier in our life. And this is one of the core thing I have always and plan to further foster. To treat other people the way I want to be treated; with respect and humility and hope that I leave a good footprint in everyone’s lives.
May this path I am about to embark on, bring me great happiness, joy and fulfilment, great confidence to be in my own skin, amazing & lovely experiences that are priceless, religious hold that is truer than ever, and flourish me in all of my life’s areas, Aamiinn ya Allah ya Mujid.
So to my fellow readers, which one of these Life Scenarios are you on, or have heard of? Care to share with me what your views and experiences are? Share it with me on the comment section below!