All of my life, I’ve felt rushed.
When you’re young, your life is a series of planned-out milestones. Turn 16 so that you can drive. Graduate from high school. Turn 18 so you can vote. Turn 21 so you can drink. Graduate college.
It is easy to feel like you are just racing toward the next one.
Now my college graduation is looming and I feel more rushed than ever. Americans put such an emphasis on getting a good job and being successful that I feel as if I have no choice but to rush into the rest of my life.
I’ve never been a believer in sacrificing happiness now for the potential of it later. My mom passed away at the age of 40; life is too short to be miserable in the hope that you will be happy in a future that may never come. My biggest fear is to look back at the end of my life and realize I never truly lived.
In America, it’s societally frowned upon to take time to find yourself. We just don’t have the time for it.
Not everywhere in the world is like this, however.
I am studying in Madrid for four months, and time seems to slow down here. The pace of life is slower. People actually wait for crosswalk signs instead of living out a human version of Frogger just to save 20 seconds. People sit down to enjoy meals instead of scarfing in the name of productivity. A typical lunch break in Spain lasts an hour and a half, which seems ludicrous to anyone who grew up where a “lunch break” is a formality instead of an actual practice.
Siestas are a real thing, too, to the dismay of American kindergarteners everywhere. People of all ages take even just a half hour every day to just nap and relax.
And this slower pace transcends everyday life. In a country where the unemployment rate for people under 25 is over 40 percent, it’s impossible to place a societal pressure on the young to succeed immediately.
The Spanish have a saying, “Que será, será.” This translates to “What will be, will be”, but it’s not as defeatist as it would be in the U.S. It is not a fatalistic realization that things are out of our control, but more of an acceptance of that fact to keep people here from worrying about it.
All of my life, I’ve felt rushed. On the precipice of not having a plan for the first time in my life, I feel a tremendous desire to slow things down.
I hate the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I have absolutely no idea. I hate the fact that society tells me I should. As much as we try to control everything in our lives, life is full of unexpected twists and anything can happen. So why bother kidding ourselves by pretending we know what will?
Que será, será.
Editor’s note: This story is part of our September 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about Location: Where are you, and how does it affect how you see the world?’
Josh Rosenblatt is an aspiring writer and human being, searching for eternal happiness. If you can help him with either of these three, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his musings on social media @da_blatt.