Spending my 20s hitting all the big milestones… apparently. Have I made it yet?
It’s been a little while, huh? Apologies for the lack of posts recently. If you’ve been following a few of my last posts or have spoken to me lately, you’ll know over the last 4 months or so i have been trying to purchase a house. After 37 inspections, 4 offers, and 2 contracts, I am happy to announce (if you didn’t know already) I found a really great place in the east of Brisbane. All the hard work finally paid off. I think it’ll take me a little while longer to get everything all set up, but it’s all well under way. Life is good.
As I was packing up and cleaning my old house, I had moved most of my furniture and stuff into the garage. I remember walking around the garage one night and thinking, wow, this is most of what they would call my “net worth”. My value according to that measurement could be measured in just about a double garage.
And it got me thinking about a question a lot of us ask, especially in our 20s and 30s…
Have I made it yet?
Defining making it
There are many different measurements for how we define whether or not we have made it in life. Usually we start at the material things – do you have a car, a stable job, a career progression? Have you got your savings in order, have you started investing, have your investments started to grow? From there, have you moved out, have you rented for a while, have you purchased your first property? Your second? Your tenth? How’s your dress sense? Do you dress like a 10? Finger on the pulse of what’s going on?
Then it moves to our skillset. Are you trained in your profession, have you become an expert in something? Are you respected for what you know? Perhaps you’ve acquired a vast deal of knowledge of the current political landscape of your nation. Maybe you’re well versed in the arts. Perhaps you can have a conversation at length about a number of different topics.
And how about relationally? How are your friendship circles? Have you grown your emotional intelligence? Maybe you’ve moved from the 3s and 5s and 10s you used to deal with and are now capable of maintaing relationship with 100s. Maybe you have influence over 1000s. Have you got a boyfriend or a girlfriend yet? Is the relationship progressing? Are you married yet? When’s your first child due? Are your kids growing up well? How’s the white picket fence going? When are your kids having kids?
And how about your dreams? You know when you were younger, you were so wide eyed and filled with unlimited possibilities. As you’ve gotten older, have you started seeing those things become a reality? Or are you still waiting for them to happen? Or maybe you did give it a go but got disappointed and had to reevaluate your strategy. How much like the person you wanted to be are you really? Have you accomplished the goals in your heart?
These and many questions like it are usually how we measure whether or not we have made it in life. I wonder how good these measurements are. I mean they are all fantastic things and great aspirations. But I wonder if they’re a good definition of “making it”. And how many of them do I need to have made it? I just bought a house – is that good enough? Or do I need two to have made it? Or three? Or none? How much do I need to earn a year? How many people do I need in my life? At what point are you actually content in knowing you’re “there”?
How do you measure value?
If I look at my own life, in terms of a lot of these, I am quite happy and content with myself. I’m currently 26 and look at some things and go, hey yeah, I think I’m doing well.
But I guess for a lot of us there are a lot of other things we look at with intimidation and disappointment, and maybe even a sense of failure. You feel like you’re not the man or the woman you want to be. You’re still pursuing that position or that day where you’ll be able to finally look at yourself and say, “I have arrived”.
But I wonder if that place is actually a place you can arrive. I wonder if that place of “knowing I’ve made it” is actually a real thing. A lot of people have great measures of success in so many areas, and yet so many of them are unhappy, depressed, suicidal, and never content with what they have. People reach the peak of fame and wealth and popularity and influence, only to jump off the top rung of the corporate ladder into despair and depravity. Not all of them, but a significant number. Obviously there’s more to making it then ticking boxes and collecting stuff and winning awards.
Let me go back to that example I mentioned earlier of the idea of “net worth”. What a crazy term. Is my entire value as a man really based on the numerical figure that that sum amounts to? Am I really just worth the contents of my home? Am I just measured by my success in my career? Am I nothing more than the number of friends I have? Do I have to be dearly loved by thousands of people to actually attain a sense of value?
It reminded me of the Hebrew king Solomon, who got to the peak of success and hated his life. He was wealthy as anyone else – he received 666 talents (25 tonnes) of gold every year. That’s a lot of gold. Per year. He lived in a massive palace. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines – most men would call him a stallion. He had servants from every corner of the earth. We’re still talking about him thousands of years later. Obviously the guy made a difference.
And yet none of it mattered to him. He eventually got to a point of claiming that all of it was vanity. Many others with similar pursuits have also echoed this sentiment throughout history.
I wonder if our pursuit of these things is an attempt to find a sense of value. And if we don’t have these things, have we got no value?
Or is our value intrinsic – are we valuable just because we exist and we are loved? Are we valuable because of the price paid for our betterment?
Have we made it yet?
Pressing on to what’s ahead
All that said, I think because we have an unhealthy insecurity relating to our value, we shy away from giving significant thought to how we’re progressing in life.
It’s not that our value comes from our progress. But I think to avoid progress and growth is to squander the gift of life we’ve been given. I believe that more than our value, we also have a specific purpose to fulfill during our time here. You know what I’m talking about. Just look at how frustrating it can be in your own life when you don’t feel like you’re fulfilling all that you’re supposed to be. It eats you alive. There’s no satisfaction there.
Because you know you are more than what you are.
One of our young adult pastors made a great observation on this the other night, pointing out that Hebrew boys were considered men at the age of 13. From that age, they lived and breathed and acted out with the responsibilities of a man – taking care of the family, taking care of the business, learning and growing and increasing. It wasn’t accidental or unfocused – it was intentional and a lot of hard work. It was also evident on their lives that they were increasing in every way. Our generation waits so long before we decide to start taking those things on board by comparison.
Increasing in every way. I wonder if we could say the same about ourselves.
If I want to measure the utility and success of a car, I could measure a lot of things – its paint job, its shape, its horsepower, the quality of its seats, the size of the boot (or trunk for all y’all in the States)… so many things. But at the end of the day, the car was created with the purpose of moving people from one place to another. Is the car serving that purpose? Then that’s the main thing. The rest is all the nice to have kind of stuff.
I think it’s similar with us. So many times we’re distracted by all the nice to have stuff. Whether or not we’ve bought a house, whether or not we have 30000 social media followers, whether or not people whisper our praises when we walk in the room. But at the end of the day, are we fulfilling the purpose for which we were born?
Who am I? What is my purpose in this world?
I think that’s where we really need our answer. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for in our pursuit of life? Maybe if we can find the answer to those questions, we will truly be able to address the question of “Have I made it yet?”.
From that base, from the place of secure identity and confidence in purpose, we find the help we need to align the voyage.
To remind me where I’ve been, and where I am going.
As always, hope that my musings made you think. I think this is a big question that a lot of us face in our lives, but I think it’s well within our reach to find the answers we seek. Hopefully here you’ve found something helpful for reflection on your own life.
Looking forward to more regular updates again now that all the hecticness of open homes and inspections and solicitors and blah blah blah is all behind me now.
And as always, love hearing from you guys. Thanks for all the messages and comments I get about what you think on some of these issues. Whether you agree or disagree, one of my favourite things is to see that people are really thinking about these things.
Over to you. Have you made it yet? How do you measure what your life is worth?