As I get older, I find myself travelling down the same path I saw others going down before me. The destination is sometimes what I, as a teenager, had sought to avoid. As far back as 6 years ago, I had started realizing that there are reasons for everything that happen, and now, I am at the point where I clearly see that it's not a simple matter of deciding what I want to be or do today. Realities, situations, and past experiences all determine who I am and what I do yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Sometimes, the results are not what teenager me would've wanted, and sometimes they aren't even what the present me wants. However, it is what the present me has calculated to be the best result, considering and balancing a multitude of factors. Maybe I'll make a post about this another time. This post is not about that.
This post is about another observation I first started realizing about a year ago. As children, we all start more or less at the same place. However, as time goes on, different attitudes, mindsets, and innate abilities yield very different results. By the time we graduated from high school, the results were starting to show - with some of us continuing college, some going to work right away, others taking breaks, etc. However, we didn't really notice, because our friends were usually the same people who were in our classes, and chose more or less the same path we did.
I would say that even after graduating from college, the differences between our paths was still not visible. We all went to school, ate together, studied, and played together. We all ended up with a piece of paper. All of us still had a net worth of 0 as we interviewed for jobs and started working.
However, 10 years after graduating from college, the differences in progress is now undeniable, to the point where sometimes there are awkward moments when we get together. In these past 10 years, some of us had started solid careers, and are now buying houses, getting married, investing, and planning for retirement. I recently learned that one of us has even become a millionaire, running a successful business. Others have also been working steadily, albeit in less rewarding professions, are getting by, but don't have much in terms of disposable income. Finally, others, yet, have been struggling to gain traction. 10 years in, it is a real challenge, and is not something that can easily be overcome, both with personal motivation as well as with job market expectations. "To him who has, more will be added, and to him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away." This is a eerie fulfillment of that verse.
And this is when people begin to drift apart. I noticed that when my friends got married, we started hanging out less. Initially, it was to make room for him to spend more time with his lover. After a while, it just became natural. Eventually, we only occasionally hang out. Similarly, people feel more comfortable being around others in the same financial situation, and the strain reveals itself when it comes to spending habits. The topics we choose to discuss become more limited, as the challenges we are facing are different, as are the things that are on our minds. But, perhaps most alarming of all, is that our paths will continue to diverge over time, probably until we die, when we all end back at the same place, waiting for the Lord's judgment.
There have been a few conversations last year between our usual group of friends, when I had the distinct feeling that I didn't belong. It was shocking, at the time, to realize that our experiences these last 10 years have been so different. It seems like despite my best efforts to keep my life the same, the world changed drastically around me after I turned 30. I will have to adapt to my new surroundings.
Written on April 22, 2018