Bisi had a clear picture of what her future as an adult would look like. A big house with kids running around, a caring and devoted husband, a career with a multinational firm, and all the perks that would come with that. She couldn’t wait to launch her life.

Once she was through with her undergrad, she began the grind. She got her first job with a bank but only used it to finance an MBA degree, which she worked on alongside her day job. She pushed herself hard both at work and in school and was sure to make the necessary connections, at both places, with people whom she figured would take her closer to her goals.

Bisi had little time for normal socializing — connecting with family, friends, and even going on dates. However, she eventually managed to squeeze in some time to date this man who worked for a multinational she greatly admired. They met through the MBA program. He was part-time too. Through knowing him, she was able to get a job offer with the same company once she obtained her degree. So, she switched jobs and started on her dream career, working alongside her dream man!

They got married. The next step was to get a house they could fill up with kids together and make into a home. They didn’t have enough money for Bisi’s kind of dream house but they figured they both had good jobs and made good-enough money, so they put their finances together and got a loan to buy the big house!

So Bisi’s in her dream house now, with her dream man. Work’s going very well for both of them. She’s a career woman, getting all the promotions and moving up at work. He’s moving up too — more money to go towards paying off that home loan! With time, they both become high-powered executives at different multinational firms, living in a big house, driving fancy cars, and raising even fancier kids.

She sat down one day to admire this picturesque life of hers, but she discovered something incongruent. She wasn’t happy with it. It wasn’t what she dreamt — or at least it didn’t feel that way. She realized that she didn’t have real friends, only business partners, and suck-ups. People didn’t necessarily like her at work, they just wanted to be like her. She realized that she hardly spent any time in that big house of hers. Her time was mainly spent at work or traveling for work. The saddest of all her realizations was that she didn’t really know her kids. The house-helps and nannies knew them much better than she did; so did members of her own family, whom she had inadvertently cut off from her busy life.

Bisi’s taking stock of her life now and she wonders, “Am I there yet?” The house of my dreams? The kids? The career? It sure does look like it but does not at all feel that way. Something’s missing. Deep relationships are missing. She hadn’t paused at each stage of her numerous achievements to take it all in, enjoy and celebrate. She was always just thinking about the next stage, jumping on to the next thing, frantically climbing every rung on the ladder to her dream life. She didn’t make meaningful connections on the way — associating with only those she felt could be instrumental to taking her to where she wanted to be. And that was all they did.

She now questions even her relationship with her husband. Was he a real connection she had made? Or was he just a door that led her to her glorious career?

It’s hard not to identify with Bisi. When we sit to re-evaluate our lives and ask ourselves the same question, we’d often realize that, no, we aren’t there yet because “there” was never accurately defined by us in the first place. It was a hurried misinterpretation of success. Success, you see, is not a destination but a journey. A journey that if not thoroughly enjoyed and accurately defined, becomes one that takes us nowhere. A mirage.

We ought to make friends, build real connections with people, celebrate each achievement, pause to take it all in — one step at a time. No rush, no competition, no “Are we there yet?” without first enjoying where we currently are. And we should teach that to our kids too because all they want at this stage of their lives is to become adults. And when they do become adults, all they’d want will be to graduate college and gain some freedom. When that happens, the next thing on their minds would be to find a spouse, then have children, then buy a house. And on and on their insatiable minds would go.

We ought to promote mindfulness, living in the moment, pausing to enjoy every stage of life because once they’re gone, we’ll never get them back. What’s a pretty sad picture is living a mirage where you never arrive at where you wish to be, while at the same time, missing out on where you currently are.

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