I remember having a conversation with a good friend and ex-colleague just before the dreaded yearly review. We reflected on what we’d said and laughed when we realised that we’d both told our boss (in different ways) that we weren’t interested in taking her spot.
We were happy just as we were, on a mission to nowhere in particular and that’s okay.
I was an over-achiever in school, the type of person who others might have looked at and said ‘yeah she’s got it together’, but I was just as scared and clueless as anybody else.
After a few years in the corporate world I realised I didn’t want to climb the ladder anymore. Would I have been able to? Yes, probably, who knows? Just like someone who works from home might decide that they need the structure, comradery and steady income of an 8 to 5 job because trust me, you’ll miss that when it’s gone.
I have friends who worked their way through law degrees and science degrees only to change their mind at the final hurdle and quit what to others seemed like an awesome opportunity. Heck, I would have done e-commerce if I wasn’t so afraid of the letter e. Who knew how digitally aware we’d become.
Several kids in my year dropped out at 5th form and I thought ‘but what will they do, who will they become’? I don’t have teenagers so maybe I’ll regret saying this, but we are always learning and growing and not knowing where you’re going is okay.
I’m not saying you should drop out of school or take your frustrations out on others. I loved school but really, I think what it comes down to is that I loved to learn. I would see people in my class who for whatever reason would cause havoc and rebel against the machine. At times I wanted to be them, brave and outspoken, but really I just hoped that they would turn that energy into something that would give them the focus they needed to excel in their own way. And they were the ones I was most excited to see what they would do next, because a lot of them were brilliant.
I think if you are unsure of anything in life, who you’ll be or where you’re going just focus on the things that intrigue you or that get your mind whirring and just start learning everything that you can about that.
In this day and age there are ways and means of learning just about anything, and it’s an all ages type of thing. Play to your strengths and then share your passion with people who will appreciate it. I once watched an elderly lady amble into one of my lectures. In a class full of late teen and twenty something’s, there she was in a zimmer frame and my jaw dropped.
How awesome was she? I bet she absorbed more than any one of us because she didn’t have to be there, she chose to be. To learn as much as she could while she could, because learning is everything.
Maybe that’s why we age forward and not backwards. So we can learn from the people who already know so much and have so little time left.
There will always be someone who will tell you no and hold you back, but speaking from experience most of the time that person was me, or my own self-doubt. Just keep on learning about the things you love most and this drive will shift your focus in the right direction.
Nothing will get better unless you do.
Whenever I am doing something that I love, the path ahead seems clearer, brighter and less uncertain and opportunities are attracted to that energy too I think, because suddenly the phone rings and doors start to open.
Sometimes its okay to say, I’m doing this thing [job/school] because it gets me from A to B but be grateful, humble. It may not be your dream to be there but see the bigger picture. The fact that you’re there getting it done with a smile on your face, means that other people can get their jobs done with a smile on their faces.
Sometimes we don’t see this because we are so focused on the thing that keeps the lights on and internet working. Money, or lack of it.
While that is important I don’t think it can be the only thing that sustains you, or you may become someone who has everything and nothing.
So if you feel like there’s something missing in your life. That the job you’re paid to do isn’t your purpose or reason for being, it might not be, but it doesn’t mean quit. Just don’t stop there.
Find that other thing that lights you up. A project, a sport, a good cause whatever it is that makes your heart sing. That thing that makes you forget what time it is, when you last ate or cared about who was doing what and immerse yourself in it at every chance you get.
It may not earn you a cent but it will give you something that money can’t buy. It will give your life purpose, and it doesn’t have to be your job. You might choose to make a career out of it if that’s what you really want or you may just find that allowing yourself to do it, brings you so much joy and meaning to your life that all the other pieces of the puzzle that make up you (who you are, what you want and why you’re here), start to make sense….finally.