I know I’m not supposed to have it all figured out at 22, but sometimes I think it sure would be nice to know something, anything about what I’m doing with my life. Or what I want to do with my life. I’d even settle for knowing what I want to do tomorrow. It feels like my head is filled with an ever-growing list of worries, anxieties, goals, fears, excitement, anticipation, dreams, but none of them concrete. And it is so much harder to deal with a list of issues you can’t name.
Although I’m not seethingly envious that all of my friends are off with goals and making plans and all knowing-what-they-want-to-do-with-their-lives (I’ll admit that wasn’t the most easygoing-sounding sentiment), it doesn’t make it any easier feeling like I’m stuck in one place without even a hypothetical ideal of what I want to do. Not that I can speak for any of them; I know we’re all trying to get our shit together in our own way.
In grade school, I went through the same career phase as every other child: I wanted to be a doctor (read: neurosurgeon), lawyer, ballerina, rockstar, and every other profession before I knew what they were. But I knew that when I grew up, with experience and research and probably a little luck I would figure out what I wanted to be, where I wanted to go. Well, I feel a little more grown up than I did when I was seven, and no more inclined toward one path. In high school, teachers told us college is where we would find our niche, and that it would help us succeed in the real world without writing our futures in stone. In college, professors and advisors told us not to rush to declare a major, we had time, everything would fall into place. Since I’ve graduated, all I’ve heard is, “Oh, it’s so nice not to have any plans. Take advantage of this freedom.” Except, at the same time I was also hearing, “Don’t waste time declaring a major, you want to get a good job.” and “Rhetoric and Communication Studies? What do you want to do with that major?” and “The market’s not great right now, you should grab any job you can.” Thanks a lot, everyone, really, I feel so much better and not confused at all.
I read a good number of blogs and news sites and articles every day, and the insightful, reminiscent-of-my-20s, wish-I-had-known-then-what-I-know-now crap that comes across my screen is very in right now. All full of good advice, good intention, but most of all, clarity for one person: the author. The moments I spend reading those articles are hopeful – like when I come across a job I can actually imagine myself enjoying, or a possible new direction that makes the future as exciting as ever – but when I step away from the hopeful, I’m left perpetually sorting through the tangles and the web of what is and what will be and what I want.
I guess all I can do right now is count on my future self’s ability to write her own wistful, nostalgic, it-all-works-out-in-the-end piece 10 years from now. And if by then I still can’t say I’ve figured it out (taking bets on the odds of this), I at least want to know that the not figuring it out part was worth it.