I don’t know what I want.
I’m twenty-six years old.
And with no major childhood traumas that inhibit my ability to function successfully in the world. But after multiple attempts at multiple careers I still feel none the closer to realizing what it is I want to spend my days working on.
And I think that’s okay.
My parents, married thirty years, one career their entire lives, mechanic and child health nurse, and I love them dearly. But the older I get the more I notice the differences between their lives and mine.
At first I just thought it was an age thing “they’re a different generation it’s not the same anymore” was what I always said. And to a degree that’s true, the nature of careers has changed so much and with the integration of technology it’s almost not comparable to the job market thirty or forty years ago.
But then I did what I know I shouldn’t, compared myself to those around me. And you really notice it heading into your later twenties. A few people I grew up with had already set everything up, stuck to one degree, one partner and had their house and family well on the way.
And I just didn’t feel anything remotely like that. I wanted to travel and to socialize and try different careers and I wasn’t ready for something so long term and concrete. But like I’ve said before, everyone is different, we grow at different rates and want different things and that’s what gives life diversity.
So all this left me asking
“Where do I fit in to all this?”
Which has to be one of the most common daily questions people ask themselves. But I had no answer, and I felt like I needed one. So if it’s not necessarily related to age, then what was it, why didn’t I know where I was going?
It was advice over a coffee from a good friend of mine that just triggered a moment of clarity, and it was like a massive wave of relief.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know”
It’s strange when you try to look outside of yourself, and figure out why you have all these conceptions, notions, and expectations that don’t have any real value. And I suddenly realized that whether they were real or imagined, they weren’t important, these pressures have no significant meaning because they had nothing to do with who I wanted to be.
Just Let Go
We all want.
We all fear.
We all love.
We all grow old.
What you’re worried about now won’t matter in five years. We don’t have to have a house and a family and a mortgage and two cars by thirty. And realizing I didn’t have to have those things, that they were merely expectations I unconsciously felt from my traditional family and upbringing, was a weight off my shoulders. I could just pursue things that interested my mind as opposed to careers that I thought were stable such as Police Officer and Teacher.
So, we obviously need money, unless you’re going off the grid to live an alternative life in a commune, unfortunately money still makes our world go round, and it does provide us with security as well as opportunities to pursue our interests. However, I realized I was prioritizing it too highly. I was sacrificing my happiness for jobs that made me miserable in return for paying the rent.
That leaves an entire life to explore. I started making decisions a lot faster, based on whether I was enjoying what I was doing and whether it struck a good work to life balance. I wouldn’t stay in anything longer than a month if I didn’t like it. And previously I thought that meant I was failing, because I was quitting, but it takes courage to say no to expectations. So I’d work for a while, then travel, work a bit more then quit and work on some creative projects. And I repeated this until I could start to see what I liked and didn’t like.
I lied a bit in the beginning, in the end I did know what I wanted. But I had to let go completely, all my thoughts and notions from high school and my parents and careers I didn’t enjoy were just baggage I needed to drop off. I was at peace before I found what I wanted, I could’ve happily kept exploring and creating and keeping work and life in balance. Now I’m nearly at the end of my three-year Bachelor of Arts, with majors in Sociology and Global Politics and Policy, and I’ve loved every minute of it.