Earlier this week I came across a tweet that said “Picture yourself at 32. You’re married, have kids, work a great job. It’s Christmas Eve and you’re curled up on the couch. You’ve made it.” For a moment I put my phone down and thought about what my life would look like a decade from now. The friendships I’ll make and the friends I’ll inevitably lose, the pride of walking across a graduation stage at least once and hopefully twice, finally seeing the efforts and sacrifices of my parents coming to fruition. I also thought about whether I even want this American Dream-esque life. On paper, it’s what we’re taught to crave. Financial stability, a good home life, a peaceful holiday season are worthy goals, but the sentiment of tweets like these is misleading. I, like many people, often catch myself going through life always looking at what comes next, I treat to school and internships as means to an end and while I do enjoy the time I spend learning new things and meeting different people there’s always this feeling of discontent lodged in my chest. I doubt that feeling is ever going to go away.
As humans, we constantly crave things, not just “bad” things like free time when we have deadlines to meet or delicious food leading us to an early grave, but good things like academic success and professional power, and upward mobility. The desire to succeed in life is more than just normal, it’s admired. However, the danger of ambition is tunnel vision, losing the ability to see and enjoy what’s going on now in the hope that next week, next, month, and next year bring what we truly desire. Ambition is admirable, just not when it takes away from the moment we’re living in. I made the mistake of going through high school wanting to blow through the four years as quickly as possible without appreciating that those were the last truly carefree years of my life. I’ll hopefully never be the guy during last call talking about how his team went to states his senior year of high school, but I did have the privilege of being part of some great sports teams and realized that yes, prom may seem cheesy and overrated, but the memories you make at those events certainly won’t be.