It’s the age old question: ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’
As soon as we begin being potty trained (so last week) up until we’re in our 20’s we get asked this age old question. It just doesn’t ever truly stop and unless you’re one of the lucky ones who was born musically or mathematically gifted (a particular knack with the baton twirler perhaps?), it’s a question that can continue to berate and frustrate you.
If you’re anything like myself, you’ve spent your 20’s plagued by confusion (see my blog post all about that here). Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a pretty bloody good time in my 20’s so far; I’ve travelled to more places than most people could ever imagine and cultivated meaningful, lasting friendships, but one area that has been a constant source of conflict in my life is that dreaded word: career.
And do you know what, it’s OK to not know what you want to do.
And do you know what else: constantly stressing about what you want to do achieves absolutely nothing.
Last year, my 24th year, was without a doubt a pretty challenging year for me. Let me break it down quickly for you: I moved countries solo, started a career in teaching and after deciding that I didn’t think it was for me, I took a break to give myself headspace and went into nannying instead. Although it may sound like this is taking a massive step back career-wise, it was the BEST thing I ever did and here’s why: it gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do.
I had spent so much time complaining about my current work situation and so much time freaking out about the fact that I was nearly 25 and was none-the-wiser about what I wanted to do with my life that I had started to feel trapped and overwhelmed. Everyone around me appeared to have their lives sorted and I was constantly comparing myself to others when it finally occurred to me that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit.
Firstly, I had a degree. Granted it wasn’t in a field that I was passionate about pursuing but a degree’s a degree right? I hadn’t even considered that not knowing what you want to do can be just as helpful as knowing what you do want to do. Turns out, the process of elimination is kind of handy.
I also knew what I loved: travel, beauty, writing, talking about life and sharing these experiences with others. I started looking closer at the things I was doing in my spare time (like, this blog for instance) and realised that I had infact, without even realising it, found things that I’m passionate about.
I started talking to people. Profound I know.
Always having been quite the talker, I am never one to shy away from talking to friends about how I’m feeling and I found through talking it out that I was much less alone than I had previously thought. I also discovered that my friends were actually kind of brilliant people (I already knew this) with equally brilliant ideas! I had never even entertained the notion of looking into internships but when a friend suggested that it was something I should look into, I thought ‘that’s actually kind of a great idea’.
Even asking friends, “hey, what do you think I’d be good at?” is a great place to start.
For the first time in a long time, I started feeling less trapped by my degree and started feeling truly excited about where my professional life was heading.
We spend so much time worrying and putting enormous amounts of pressure on ourselves that we end up getting no where closer to our end goal of finding out what we want to do and much closer to encountering a quarter life crisis (lemme tell you something, they’re real people).
You know those people you look at with these seemingly fabulous careers? The grass is always greener and every job has it’s downfalls. Yes, some people do genuinely love what they do and that’s fantastic, but try to remember it’s not the reality for everyone.
If there’s anything I learned from last year it’s this: STOP WORRYING. Stop worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. Stop worrying about things that may not even come to fruition. Just stop. Instead try to refocus that energy. Be productive. Talk to people. Try new things. Look at what you do for fun. What makes you truly happy?
So, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
Well, I’m pleased to say that I’m a heck of a lot closer to finding out.