Sometime ago, I used the words ‘Young and Restless’ to describe myself in a team introduction video. A few months later, I met some younger folks who were now where I was over a decade ago and I realised how much I had become ‘old and rested’. ‘Old and rested’, an interesting way to describe myself right! What does it mean to be ‘old and rested’ you may wonder? While it is ok to be ‘old and rested’ when you are actually older in age and in your sunset years, it is unacceptable to be ‘old and rested’ in your ‘Prime’. But that is exactly what comfort does to you, left unchecked, it could make you ‘old and rested’. You stop creating, you stop thinking, you stop growing. You just sit there and grow ‘extinct’. This is not contentment, I love contentment. This is called accepting; accepting that you are there when you are still here. Accepting that you have achieved when you can still achieve more. Looking around and being the best in the moment and forgetting that you can be better. ‘Old and rested’ is cutting your journey short because you seem to have achieved the human metrics of success but deep within you, hunger pangs nag.
As I spoke with the younger version (YV) of myself, a job opportunity showed up, it was a dream job by all measures, everyone was applying. YV had no interest in applying, we talked about it and reviewed its merits against an article we all read as a team earlier that week. It was an article by Jordan Raynor on time management. Jordan highlighted that ‘not all good opportunities are good for you as some were ultimately distractions’, Hmm! We agreed this was a good opportunity but I let YV think through if it was the right opportunity or a distraction. The next morning, YV gave me an answer, a well informed one. The spreadsheet and other projections of where YV wanted to be in life screamed DISTRACTION – Case closed. I was impressed by the decision, and even more impressed by one of the reasons shared for not applying for similar roles. In YV’s words, ‘my brain will die in that role’. It was clear that YV knew that this was not the road to travel and chose to stick with conviction. YV was young and choose to stay restless.
Over a decade ago, I was fresh out of University with a degree in Political Science and International Relations and a goal to change my world and become the first female Secretary General of the United Nations (UN). Life happened and let’s just say I wandered. In the process, I learned so many lessons and met so many people. Even though my steps didn’t take me closer to the UN, I am thankful that I took those steps. One day, the scales fell off and I began to realise that in so many ways, I had become ‘Old and rested’. My brain felt fried, I felt burnt out but like many, I chose to stay on because of the perks. The first female Secretary General spot is still open, I don’t know if it is still the path for me but I remain focused, who knows one day I may still be first at something as I carve a niche for myself and make impact. Sometimes in life, you need to decide that no matter how far you have gone off, you will choose to wake up, create a safety net and begin that painful journey back to where you were really going.
Young and restless is a state of mind that we should walk in until we take our last breath because you are never too old to be young and restless. Give of yourself until there is nothing left to give. Invest in yourself continuously, keep learning, unlearning and relearning. When you feel like your brain is fried, turn down the heat or get out of the pan and you will realise that your brain still works. Surround yourself with individuals of all ages and from all works of life, they keep you balanced and in touch with reality. Older folks share their wins and losses and tell you how to avoid traps based on experience. There is an African adage that says, ‘What an old person can see sitting, a young person can not see standing’. Your peers keep you accountable as you have walked this path together. Younger folks remind you of the person you used to be and wanted to become. They also remind you to stay relevant or get out of the way.
Your interactions are enriched when you can glean from each other and maintain a healthy equilibrium. Remain connected to your true self, map out a straight path for yourself and stay true to your path, retracing your steps or simply starting all over when you miss the mark. I am reminded of the scripture that says,
I love how this scripture removes any cap that our human minds may attempt to place on achieving greatness. Knowing God and knowing your place in him positions you to be restless until you finish the work that he has positioned you to accomplish on earth.
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