What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut? A movie star? A librarian?
Whenever I was asked that question as a girl, I always answered with the first thing that came into my head. A teacher. I don’t know why, but it stuck with me throughout childhood and seeped its way into adolescence. I told myself that teaching was my dream job, that I just loved kids, that I would be a natural. In hindsight I probably knew that it would never be a satisfying career for me. I was pretty bad at presenting myself in front of others or interacting with kids. I spent my high school years doing subjects that were focused towards teaching careers. I wasted a year of my life at university doing a course that I wasn’t compatible with. I often wonder where I’d be now if I hadn’t convinced myself to go down the teaching route.
You’d think the realisation of all of this would have given me at least some subtle clue to what I really ought to do. It didn’t.
I’ll be frank. I don’t have a single clue what I’m doing with my life. I was on the cusp of turning 18 and my life plans pretty much went to pot. I thought I had my whole life planned down to every last single meticulous detail. I’d go to uni, leave with a degree, do some travelling before settling as a primary teacher.
‘Settling’. I think that word should never be used when describing a career. You should be striving, aspiring, determined. Never settled. That word implies monotony, routine. Who wants that?
My present reality is so far from those well-intentioned plans I set out when I was too young to even know what life really meant. So far, my adult life has consisted of lots of little ‘experiments’. I’ve dabbled in a bit of travelling, tried out some voluntary work, floated from job to job and went from a completely independent young adult to a solely dependent woman who relies on her boyfriend for everything. Not that I am complaining, he is my rock in life.
The problem with not knowing what you want to do as a career is that you kind of end up wanting to do everything, all at once. One day you’re an intrepid explorer ready for physical challenges, the next you’re a writer, brain bursting at the seams with ideas. When you’ve no solid career path, you have some subtle freedoms that may go unnoticed by oneself. But to others they stick out like a sore thumb. You aren’t attached to a career path just because you put yourself £20,000 in debt and spent four gruelling years at uni. You’re not obliged to stay in a job if you don’t like it. You have no ties. You’re in a ‘friends with benefits’ type relationship with employment and future plans. The world is your oyster as they say, and that’s exactly the problem. It’s almost like being at a restaurant with an unnecessarily large menu and spending ages switching between choices.
This freedom might seem appealing to some. To me it’s daunting. Worrying about what I am going to do in ten years resurfaces in my mind occasionally, unwelcomingly familiar, like black and white reruns. I analyse everything I do, looking for some tiny sign that this is my calling. As of yet, no such luck.
Luck. Sometimes I feel like my lack thereof is one of the reasons I haven’t stumbled across my purpose in life just yet. Perhaps I already have, and I’ve passed it up in hopes of something better, due to a greed for something wholly satisfactory. Something fulfilling. Not just a job I’ve just settled for because I can. Too many people waste their lives away in dead end jobs, working to live – forgetting what ‘living’ really is. The thought of that possibly being my life haunts me. I’m the type of person who needs a constant flow of excitement to feel contented. I guess I have a mild form of undiagnosed adult ADHD in that I suffer from chronic boredom and an itch to do something.
One of my main problems is that the something I am searching for has to be completely satisfying. Something that will fulfil my needs like Christmas dinner fulfils my appetite. Something that will excite, enthral, enchant. Am I asking too much? I’ve always been told that you can do anything that you put your mind to, if you really want. So we’ll go with this and say no, I’m not asking too much. People might think I’m setting my sights too high, looking for something that isn’t there. I believe there is something out there for all of us, and no one should settle for less than what they’re worth. No one should settle for a job they were coaxed into doing by their careers advisors. Get out of your comfort zone. Explore. Try new things, new jobs. This is the only way to truly find out what your calling is in life. In my opinion anyway…
What is life like as someone who has no clear direction? For someone like me, a high functioning depressive with anger issues and a tendency to over-eat, it’s frightening. It’s an opportunity to see life with no future, a dangerous thought in my mind that can result in a whole array of reasons to feel worthless. But it’s not all bad. Like I mentioned previously, it’s allowed me some amazing freedoms. It’s given me the chance to live abroad, to solo travel, to cook, to read, to write, to blog. It’s allowed me to become a thinker. To self-evaluate. To have an openness unlike many people I know. When it comes down to it, it’s not so bad not knowing what you want to do, as long as you’re doing something that provides you contentment and happiness. For me, that’s my boyfriend, food and sleep.