When you’re young, life is like a glass of water. I’m sure that sounds absurd, but it’s true. A glass of water is the perfect way to describe life for your kids. Let’s say the water is your life, and the glass is the lens through which you look at life. Not only is the glass crystal clear, but so is the water.
Life: A timeline
When I was younger, I knew exactly what I wanted to be, where I wanted to live, and what kind of life I wanted to live. I knew because it seemed so simple to actually achieve these things. It’s when you get older that you realize how difficult it is to choose and sustain a path. It’s like the crystal clear glass is switched out for something much less transparent, perhaps a ceramic cup. The water, or life, stays pretty much the same. It’s just that it’s so much harder to see.
I think this is because becoming older means realizing what the full scope of reality entails, which is both a positive and negative notion. The best parts about growing up are experiencing, learning, understanding, and loving new things. It’s just that the process of doing so can be circuitous and unrewarding at times.
Even as life goes on, and we enter our 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s, we will still be navigating through new corridors and challenges. While this can be a very exciting and vibrant aspect of life, it is one that is not for the weak. You have to do so with a purpose, soul, and voice behind every action and endeavour.
Understanding the purpose of life
It can be hard maintaining your purpose and objectives in such a globalized and fast-paced world. It seems that everywhere you look, people from all walks of life, cultures, and careers are exerting their thoughts and views on many ideas. Thus, it is difficult to maintain your balance while being surrounded by so much.
This is especially true in a society that prizes success and wealth. Getting to this ideal obviously requires hard work, but more importantly, it takes motivation. I think motivation is the most underrated and underappreciated part of the equation. I think we’re all capable of getting to where we want to go; it’s just a matter of being motivated to do so.
At the core of motivation lies something even more overlooked and taken for granted: the idea of staying grounded. It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important to you. Surrounding influences, stress, and unhappiness can often crowd out the space that once held your peace, composure, and ‘spark’ for life.
The art of staying grounded throughout life
So, what exactly does it mean to ‘stay grounded’? Put simply, it means to live life on your terms. Ideally, I would say go out into the world and find your dream job and house, but that’s not realistic. What is realistic and completely doable is working towards those goals. Whether you’re stuck in a job you dislike or one that has become mundane, the thing driving you to go to work each day should be whatever it is you are working towards.
This brings us to our next point. Your goals should be the place where you actually want to end up. Your goals should not be a product of what the people around you are working towards or wanting to prove someone wrong. It should truly fill you with a sense of serenity and excitement.
So, living life on your own terms means always, or at least most of the time, being filled to the brim with your own passions, dreams, and thoughts. In my experience, though, this has been easier in theory than in actuality.
Implementing ‘groundedness’ into reality
The opposite of ‘living life on your own terms’ is burnout. When you do too much that you do not enjoy, your spark will fade. Let’s use another analogy here. A fire will only grow and flourish if it is fed more fuel. However, it can also be extinguished by wind, cold weather, and a lack of fuel. Here, the fire is your spark and purpose, the fuel is things that bring you joy, and the cold weather is things that can drain you or make you fall off your tracks.
Yes, obviously, in life, we will have to do things we might not exactly want to do. And that’s gonna look different for everyone. However, whether it is working at an unrewarding job, taking care of a family, or dealing with difficult people, we can all find time to find that fuel. It’s your choice whether or not you instil habits and do activities that bring you joy.
Doing so will allow you to sustain your purpose and inner self. Think about it this way. Recently, the fitness industry has been booming. Everyone (or at least a lot of people) is starting to understand the importance and benefits of physical health. Maintaining physical health requires you to be conscious of your diet and stay adamant about getting in some form of movement each day.
Your spark, or your mental health, requires the same effort and attention. There’s so much out there on creating awareness about mental health, but not nearly enough on understanding why poor mental health is so prevalent. Now, bear in mind that I am not a professional, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. However, in my very human experience, I’ve found that good mental health, or the idea of staying grounded, is directly correlated with the effort you put into doing so.
I’m not exactly referring to things like going to therapy, journaling, or taking daily walks. Of course, these are really great habits. But, I’m talking more about habits that will allow you to have a better tether on your trajectory. Whether that’s working on a small side project, having friends with the same goals as you, or comprehensively planning for the future. While you’re building up your life, you have to materialize your goals in your own creative and innovative ways.
Tying it all together
I think the spark, or the gumption and courage, that you had as a kid is one of the most neglected aspects of mental health, motivation, and success. By success, I’m not exactly referring to becoming rich and famous. If that’s what success means to you, then, by all means, pursue that definition. However, I’m talking about living a fulfilled life that you can look back on during old age and smile at.
I’ve recently been thinking about success a lot, and that is the definition that I’ve landed on. But, I’ve also realized that it’s absolutely impossible to do that without staying grounded and ‘fueling your fire.’ Staying grounded means following your own path, not anyone else’s. And it most certainly means not letting anyone else’s idea of success cloud your own.
“My end goal is to look back on everything I’ve experienced, accomplished, and learned and be proud of it. I want to look back on memories and challenges and truly smile at how I basked in enjoyment and overcame adversity. That’s what success means to me.”
A big part of this is to maintain the little kid inside of you and trust the ceramic cup. Remember the ceramic cup-of-water metaphor I used in the beginning? We need to trust that the ceramic cup holds the best, most exciting, and a most rewarding cup of water. And, we need to approach it with our best purpose and outlook behind us.
I hope that after reading this long spiel, you realize how important it is to, as I’ve said about a thousand times now, stay grounded. At the end of the day, your choice to nurture your purpose and to continue following it every day is one that reflects your self-worth and ambition.
You may also like:
About the Author
My name is Alara and I am a high school junior at the Trevor Day School in Manhattan. I am the leader of various clubs, including Model UN, the admissions team, and community service clubs. I value hard work, education, optimism, and ambition. Passionate about international relations, environmental science, journalism, and economics, I hope to make an impact in these sectors during my internship at The International Prism.