“I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I can’t picture where I’ll be in a month’s time, never mind five years”
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this in conversation. Sometimes it’s someone else saying it, and many times it’s been me saying it. So if so many of us think it, so often, then why we do feel like we have to know what we’re doing at all?
Well maybe it’s a natural hangover from when human lives had very little choice; people would get up, hunt and gather, or plough fields, or ply their trade, or work in factories, or blah blah blah and then die. There was less social and geographic mobility, fewer opportunities, less of a variety of industries, no creativity, no choice. And that’s what it boils down to really isn’t it? Choice.
Too Much Choice
Too much choice can work against you. You only need to bear witness to me dithering over an overly extensive menu to see this in action. And with choice comes hesitation. Hesitation that you’re making the wrong decision. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I regret not doing that? What if I go there and I don’t like it? Too much choice makes us feel like we’re in a game show, with the odds stacked against us being able to make the right decision.
Under the Influence
Whether it’s Instagram or real life, we’re all influenced to an extent. It can come in handy, if you want inspiration for a shade of paint, or want to try a new restaurant. It’s less useful when you start to feel ‘less than’ compared to someone else. So when you start to feel like everyone around you has got their shit together and you haven’t, remember that none of us have our shit together all the time (and the moments we do, we just make sure we take pictures for Instagram).
Even without actively comparing yourself to others, there’s very much a sort of conveyor belt of life, from infancy, to school, to adulthood. Sometimes you look around and it seems like everyone else is content, everyone else knows what they’re doing, or at least has a dream that they’re working towards.
What’s the Rush?
Unless you’ve received some life changing news that’s going to make you reconsider your priorities within a given timeframe, in which case I can understand why you might choose to seize the day and rush some lifelong dreams through, there really is no rush.
Everyone from articles in magazines to Instagram influencers to your nan will have you thinking you’ve got to be a home owner, be married, have a career, have kids, have your whole life planned out – and all by a certain age too. Newsflash: none of these things have to happen at all, and if they do happen then there is no order and no timeframe. There’s no one size fits all template when it comes to life.
My mum got her Masters degree at 60. My Nana learnt to swim at the same age. Me? I fully intend on launching my modelling career at around 70 cause fuck it, why not?
Have your kids at 20 or 50. Become a YouTuber at 60. Learn a new sport or musical instrument at 30 and again at 40 and then at 50. Just don’t settle for what you think you should be doing. Mix it up a bit. You’ll be doing the next generation a favour at the same time.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Lo and behold, we’re back to choice again. But this time make it work for you not against you. Instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed by the myriad opportunities to fuck your life up, change it to a world of opportunities to try something. Try everything. Try nothing. It’s your life and and it’s your choice. Nothing’s so bad that you can’t fix it, or change it, or stop doing it, or improve it somehow.
Ask yourself: is it really that you don’t know what to do with your life? Or are there some things that just seem too scary? Bet you any money the main thing holding you back isn’t logistics or family but you yourself.
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one”
Have one career, have forty different jobs. Stay in your home town, move to another continent. Start your own business, hope for the best. Leave your job, get an easier one. Apply for a promotion, give it a whirl. Start a degree, change subjects, leave the course. In the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter. There doesn’t need to be any special outcome from your life choices. We all have one outcome in common anyway…
We’re all gonna die anyway
We’re all going to die. Do you really want to spend your time on the planet worrying about whether you’re doing it right? There is so so much to worry about in life, that worrying about what you’re doing with your life needn’t be one of them. In fact that definitely oughtn’t to be one of the things you do with your life. And I say this as a chronic worrier. Honestly, you name it, I worry about it.
There’s one thing I do know: while you’re busy worrying – about what you should do, or what you haven’t done, or what you shouldn’t have done in life – you’re missing out on Now.
And life is made up of a whole lot of Now.
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced”