This post probably won’t change your life or change anything else for that matter.
On a warm afternoon last month, I left university for the final time. It was over. Three years of hard work, study, and panic-writing essays the day before they were due were finally behind me. I walked out of the door without looking back and was ready to start the rest of my life.
Except, there was one caveat – I had no idea what to do, or what the ‘rest of my life’ even meant.
Ten years earlier in secondary school, our teacher gave us an assignment in the form of an essay – it was on our dream job. Our passion. Our true calling. Some people wrote about being athletes, some about being teachers, others about being celebrities, and one kid about being the first man on the Sun (I hope he’s realized).
Well, it’s almost a decade later and if I got that essay today I still wouldn’t know what the Hell to do with it. For years it’s been my Achilles heel, the thorn in my side, the impossible, unconquerable, unanswerable question. I’d stay up nights in a hysterical frenzy, berating myself and my pointless existence for not finding the North Star of purpose, the beacon of meaning that would I would use to navigate my way to my dream.
You know, sometimes, being in your early 20s is just a constant state of realization that the world doesn’t work like you thought it did. No wonder it’s called a quarter-life crisis.
Now, bear with me. This is not a negative, bitter or resentful post. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. As Tyler Durden once famously said, ”it’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything”. Chasing one’s ”true calling in life” is akin to chasing a carrot on a stick. You’ll never get there, and even if you do, you’ll wonder if you even like carrots at all. The whole idea of a ”one true calling” is no more than a clever marketing tactic done by so-called self-help gurus in order for them to sell you books on how much of a fuck up you are, and how they have the answer for you (often for a ridiculous price).
Think about it. We are privileged to live in a world where we can decide what we want to with our lives, and how we’re doing to do it. For most of human civilization, this was never remotely a concept. You did what your parents did. If your old man worked in the coal mines, so did you. If your family worked on the fields, so did you. If your family were dirt poor, so were you. This was life for countless generations.
In today’s day and age, people have a lot more fluidity in regards to what to do. Thankfully, everybody has a platform and everybody has a voice, and everybody is engaged in society.
This, however, is inherently paradoxical. No wonder I was going crazy (and you as well at some point, probably). A world of unlimited choices leads to unlimited doubts, unlimited fears, and unlimited questions.
So, I’ve decided to openly accept the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, where it’ll go, or what will happen. And I think there’s more beauty in that than having some predetermined North Star of destiny. Instead of focusing on if this or that is my ‘true calling’, I now ask ”does this matter?” – which is a much more answerable question.
Life is a series of moments, decisions and actions. Where it does or does not go is impossible to predict, and after realizing this, I finally found peace and relaxation.
I still won’t do that essay, either.