The 54th Deadline: Chasing Shadows

During a time, I obsessed with chasing the “shadows” of others I once knew – friends, peers and whatnot. To me, this pursuit meant life itself. As a kid, I thought of life as a race measured in increments of “success.” Granted, I had never been that competitive as a child. I wish I showed more zeal in coming out on top. I definitely would be further along by now.

After college, when a lot of my college friends and peers had their fancy degrees in hand, we were off to the races. Little did I know at the time, I lacked motivation – as stupid as they may sound. Heck, I did not even attempt to jump out ahead when the START signal came into view. I stumbled instead. Boy, I just tripped right at the beginning and never quite recovered for a long while.

A Bad Starting Point
As soon as the dust cleared, everyone else had left me behind. Too bad I lacked a sense of urgency at this point. I just set myself up for tons of failure and heartache.

The more time passed, the slower my progress went because I thought I would never catch up. I chased shadows because it was easier than thinking about my state in the race. In my twisted logic, there was no saving me. I might as well just go through the motions and hope I magically reach a person – any person – and finally seize a shadow in my hands.

Of course, this is not how life works at all. I was not driven, encouraged as you will, to run the race with 100 percent seriousness. I needed gumption, the utmost determination to do my best. It had nothing to do with trying to pass this person or that person out of spite – I just needed to compete.

A Reason to Keep Running
So for more than two years total, I did not compete. I only walked along like the race did not matter to me. In reality, this was a loser’s mentality. And I had succumbed to my dangerous thoughts of snuffing out my sense of hope.

I was wrong.

I was foolish.

I needed a different mindset.

There needed to be a superior way of approaching this. Just walking in a general direction meant my actual progress would be gradual. No way could I catch up with anyone at this rate – let alone a person’s shadow! Dash in some envy on my part to make matters even worse. When you feel so far away from others regarding success, you anchor yourself with thoughts of self-pity and jealousy. Lo and behold – everyone else (seemingly) hit the jackpot compared to me. 

The envy consumed my being. Too caught up in everyone else’s lives, I forgot to live my own. I neglected my progress to watch everyone else doing amazing things in my eyes. Perhaps we all get too fixated on stuff like that when it is convenient. I know I was guilty of this back then when I was a weak and hapless individual.

These days, I feel wiser and stronger than compared to that weakling I once associated with years ago. I am far from perfect, but I feel more determined than ever to catch up with everyone else’s shadow.

I am tired of being left behind.

“Hope is my catalyst.” – Nhan Fiction Pham

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Also published on Medium.

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