I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.
Before I go further, consider for a moment the following facts: I’m about to move out of home, with a PhD at my university of choice in one hand and a scholarship in the other. I’ve had my heart set on being a lecturer for the past few years, hence why I’ve not stopped to take a fifty-two-week-long breath since Kindergarten. I love research (as dry as it may sound to most people) and I’ve been driven towards academia as a career as much as a serial killer is driven towards getting arrested.
But still, I’m not 100% sure what I want to do with my life.
This isn’t to say I’m giving up on my dream of being Australia’s first lecturer who deals primarily in the ways Batman relates to cultural philosophy (and if there’s already someone out there doing that, I’ll steal his job instead). I just feel like there’s way too many variables to be able to conclusively state what I’m going to do with my life. I don’t know what the hell’s gonna happen tomorrow – who’s to say I won’t discover that academia will suck because, in secret, all Universities are run by the same shadowy cabal of evil Directors who dictate things like Australian Parliament and the American Film Industry? Or maybe I’ll stumble upon a chance meeting with a deep-sea diver in a Sydney bar who claims Atlantis is underneath Bondi Beach, and that all its female inhabitants resemble Scarlett Johansson?
I don’t know. And neither do you.
Too many people in my generation are content to let bad things happen, sit back and resign themselves to a life of misery and despair while they languish in jobs they aren’t happy with. Others are too keen to call a breeze a wind by saying they’re going to be secure for the rest of their lives (keeping in mind the people saying these things are in their early-to-mid-20s) and that the job they’re in will see them through until their golden years, when they’re stretched out in a reclining hoverchair with Star Wars: Episode XVII playing at their retirement cottage.
How the hell will you know one way or the other?
It sounds like an obvious thing, and I don’t mean to come across as preachy, but seriously, how do you know that’s what your life is going to be like? How can you declare that’s all there’s going to be for the rest of your life, if you haven’t actually experienced it? This isn’t like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, where you can skip to the end and instantly know, from the last few minutes, what the episode’s story involved. You have to let life play out as it will, and not leap to any conclusions about where you’re headed.
Unless you lose a limb, in which case feel free to lament and state that you’ll one day swear revenge with your Terminator-esque prosthesis.
While this may sound rather blasé, for the last few years I’ve had a New Year’s Resolution I try to stick to that’s less of a “I will eat this many cheesecakes” or “I’ll make my stomach flatter Paris Hilton’s chest” kind of thing. It’s just a few words, that stay with me for three hundred and sixty-five days (sixty-six last year) so that I know where I’m trying to get myself to by year’s end.
2011 was “Grow a backbone”. No, I was not born without a spinal column (which would’ve make sex rather difficult), I just aimed to not be easily overcome by fear in everyday life. Like when my mother asks me to make orders for her at the supermarket deli – that shit freaks the hell out of me.
2012 was “Make your voice be heard”. Those who’ve spent enough time around me can attest that when I make my voice heard these days, tissues to stem the blood flow from the ears are required. This was more in an everyday, work/uni/life kind of thing.
2013 is simple – “Find your path”. I’m adjusting to a lot of new stuff this year, like moving out of home for the first time and starting a Doctorate that promises to be every bit as challenging and difficult as everything I’ve done thus far combined. While I’m incredibly excited for all of it, it’s more than a bit daunting. It’s all new, and big, and I’ll adapt.
The only way I’ll be able to adapt, though, is by letting it all come and not overthinking it. I’m not going to snap decisions like “This Doctorate will be a piece of cake”, or “I’m gonna murder my new housemates five weeks after living with me, when they discover I secretly sniff paint and name myself the Grand King of Swindon while in a drug-fueled trance”. I’m not declaring that everything will get easier or harder from here on, I’m not consigning myself to a locked-in life depending on what happens next, and I’m not about to say with complete and unbreakable certainty that I know where I’m headed in a few years time.
Because I don’t know. I could be a whale dentist this time next year. And if I don’t know what I’ll be doing, or how life will be like, in twelve months’ time, how the hell will you know?
To those who are feeling a bit lost this year, who are unsure of where the future’s taking them, who feel trapped in jobs or positions or situations they really don’t want to be in, who’ve already thrown in a towel or two and proclaimed their life to be misery from now until the grave, who’ve loudly vocalised that they’ll never find the happiness they’ve been craving before now – find your path. It’s all still out there for you, and if you’ve already decided you’ll be unhappy for years to come, then it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Take life as it comes. Don’t spend it all yearning or fearing or fretting. Just be.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a news article to get inarticulate and enraged over for next week.