When did planning what we want to do with our lives become a choice that warrants other people’s opinions and disappointment?
For years there have been this overwhelming phenomenon that by the age of 16 you have to have your entire life planned out — specifically your career. How utterly absurd is that? As people, we grow and change constantly. So how can a career we chose as a punk 16-year-old mesh with our sophisticated 40-year-old self?
If you don’t “have it all worked out,” or don’t go to University to “work it all out,” you are outcast, instantly seen as a failure and a fuck-up. Well here’s the thing: Success is subjective. Society hammers on about what success is and forces us to buy in to this ideal, but when you break it down, it is bullshit. There are some billions of people in this world and this system is meant to work for everyone in it? Bullshit. Only you can measure and assign your success. Anything can be successful. Volunteering, travel, having a family, weight loss, helping others, creativity. You define your success and a career is not the only definition. In the film Into The Wild, Emile Hirsch’s character Chris McCandless says “A career is a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.” I could not agree more.
As I mentioned before, people are forever growing and changing, so why shouldn’t their goals, dreams, and careers change with them? The world we live in has put too much focus on the destination that they have forgotten about the journey to get there. Put that on a Hallmark card, barf. But it’s true. We are supposed to have an exact plan of where we are going to be when we are 40. What job, what car, where we will live and how many kids. That plan leaves no room for any opportunities that may arise as well as causing an unbelievable amount of anxiety if you don’t achieve it.
Well ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, young and old, with or without it all figured out, I am here to tell you, with whatever authority you choose to give me, that it is totally okay to not know what you want to do.
- 16 and have no plan of what you are meant to do on this earth – Fantastic!
- 30 and feel like you should be in a career by now but you aren’t – Who cares!
- 50 and haven’t found that 1 thing you should be doing yet – You’re amazing!
- 75 and haven’t got it ‘figured out yet’ – Neither does anyone else!
Life is not about working towards one point in your life. It’s about creating memories, learning, and being grateful and proud of all milestones in your life. If you have no idea of what your purpose is, or what you are meant to do in life, (which let’s face it, is a good percentage of the population) enjoy the process of finding out.
This is something I have struggled with lately. I am constantly worried I am not working towards a career; that I am not doing anything worthwhile or of purpose. But then I stop myself and think what am I measuring this against — What everyone else is doing? Because I don’t want that. The only person I should be competing, comparing or measuring against is me. I am the only one who has a say in my life plans.
My process so far has been a diverse, exciting, bumpy ride. My parents have always said that I didn’t have to continue with studying if I didn’t want to and that University isn’t always the answer. But for some reason I still had it in my head that was what I had to do. The opening chapters of my life outside of high school were spent changing between degrees like I was changing my underwear. I watched my student loan grow and my certainty of what path I wanted to take disappear. My anxiety was high and self-esteem low. All my life decisions were being based off what other people were doing and what path other people were taking. Why shouldn’t we be able to change degrees freely without repercussions and guilt? The reality is, choosing one area of study that will truly resonates with you and fulfils you entirely is extremely slim.
My first four years out of high school were spent trying to find my way in someone else’s world, living by someone else’s rules which of course didn’t work. Instead of appreciating and loving every minute of the new things, cities and people I was introduced to I was consumed with the fear of having no money and no plan. Right now my process has led me to travel the world, living and working in different countries. By my standards I see this as amazing, successful and an achievement, but society’s career expectations still weigh heavy on my thought.
But no more! I declare to not let my life be ruled by the bullshit any longer. This life, this story, this plan is mine and no one else’s. I shall do what I please, when I please on my own timeline. You should too.