Every 20-year-old wants to be where Jay Z is at 49
If you spend any time on social media, chances are that you have been bombarded with symbols of affluence and achievement by celebrities and other successful people. Whether it’s someone with our favorite car, a huge house, someone with their debt paid off, or simply someone getting promoted at a company we’ve applied to 6 times, we see these successes happening around us and ask, “When is my time coming?” I mean, we’ve got the degrees, the transferable skills, and the work ethic — but somehow that breakthrough moment has continued to elude us.
The first thing I had to do to find the answer to that question is to ask another one, “Do my daily actions support the story I’m telling myself?” Deep down we know if we can go harder at chasing our dreams. We know that we can stay up to write one more article. We know if we can spend one less hour scrolling the TL, and one more hour painting the portrait we promised would be finished by now. The reality, especially in this age of constant distractions, is that we want the muscles before doing all the reps. Very few people luck up on a unique circumstance to make it big overnight. The rest of us have to be intentional about consistently going the extra mile over an extended period of time to see success. If you know have done EVERYTHING in your power to ensure your success, then you can be content in knowing that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. This may be a tough thing to accept, but it’s the truth. Once you have done everything that is within your control, anything else that happens is left to serendipity. The famous formula for success is when opportunity meets preparation.
After you become secure in the fact that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, the result is that you stop looking at everyone else’s position in life. You understand that it’s fine to not be where Jay Z is at 49 years old because you’re only 20 and your opportunity will come in time. You even learn that it’s fine to not be where Jay Z was at 20 because his trajectory is simply not congruent to yours. Imagine you are running a marathon. You’ve made it to mile 21 and are dead tired at this point. Your legs are numb, and you’re constantly being blinded by beads of sweat falling from your head. As you round the corner for mile 22, you hear another runner gaining on you fast. As they pass, you see that they’re still in full stride and don’t have an ounce of sweat on their body. It’s clear that they are going to reach the finish line before you do. You wonder how they can maintain that type of pace and composure at this late stage in the race. The context you don’t have though, is that someone left a barricade open before the race started and they were able to sneak in at mile 19. At first glance, it seems like they have been running the same race and are considerably better than you. But actually, they didn’t share the same starting point or obstacles as you. So, it’s impossible to compare their present to your present.
A common theme in a lot of my content is that your personal journey is YOUR personal journey. No one knows how far along you are from the outside. The same rule applies to the people you admire. I had to accept this reality in order to stop halting my own progress. The only thing I can do is take care of the things within my control. Everything else will connect with time.