Going to school has a way of putting pressure on us. And I’m not just talking about college. Whether you’re a senior in high school, under grad, grad school, or maybe taking online classes for a specific trade – there’s this notion that if you’re not doing something right away, you’ll be nothing. Who started that?
I run into a lot of twentysomethings that truly believe because they don’t have it figured out, they’re already behind. They feel that because they’ve been out of school for 5 minutes and aren’t running Google or drowning in cash from their aspiring fashion line, that they’ve failed. These same people look around and double tap pictures of their peers in their professions with covetousness because they’re not where they want to be or better yet, don’t have a clue of where they want to be at all.
But you don’t have to.
Do you feel this pressure because your high school teachers are saying if you don’t go to college you should apply early to your nearest McDonalds? Or do you feel the way you do because college professors are sure that your best shot after it’s all over is a $32,000 salary? Oh no, it’s because your West Indian parents know for a fact that if you aren’t studying to be a doctor you’re basically selling drugs. Is that it?
Regardless, while it is easier said than done, the truth is none of that should matter.
There’s no golden guide that you follow to become the person that you want to be. There’s no cheat codes to this life thing, and no matter where you look, every question of doubt won’t have answers, and if you do find some, they may not even be the ones you want. But what you do have is time. You have time to make mistakes your greatest experiences. You have time to trial and error in different fields of work. You have time to take more classes, and you have time to make opportunities and take chances.
You don’t have to wake up in the morning and know for a fact you want to be a designer because you happen to know how to draw and you went to school for it. If your heart’s not it, why do it? What you should do is work toward something. This post isn’t an ally to you sitting at home on the couch “finding yourself” in the next bag of chips. It’s a wake up call. If you don’t know what’s next, draw your map. If you’re on route but got side tracked, go down the path that you aren’t familiar with. Make yourself uncomfortable until you find a new comfort zone.
Nobody knows what they’re doing, and the first billionaire you meet that says that they did is lying. I think this is what our years are for. We’re here to make the best of the time that we have with the people that we love. Your goals whether written down to the T or just thoughts running through your mind, should be to create, to give, to build, to grow, and establish.
And while I may have started with the reference to twentysomethings, I think this is valid for those who have been at their jobs for 20 years, who are well over their college days, who are mothers and fathers, and who are grown and still don’t know what’s next or want more but don’t know what it is. You may have more responsibilities and people relying on your next decision, but ultimately, your next decisions should be for you. You might not know what’s next but it’s okay. Work hard at something until you do. Just because you’ve been doing a job for years doesn’t mean it’s the one for you.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just taking my own advice. However, I must admit, so far so good.
You don't have to know what your exact next moves will be, but the fact that you realize you need them is already a step in the right direction. Work toward something. Write, design, cold call, market, or give birth to a start up. Whatever you do don't feel sorry for yourself. Everyone's time is different, it's what you do with yours that counts.