Q: I’m a 22-year-old man, and I feel like I’m drifting. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Most of my friends are even more unsettled than me.
A: Although that’s not exactly a question, I’d be glad to address your apparent concerns. I remember the day when we were expected to pick what we wanted to be when we grew up (when we were around age 10). We wanted to be firemen, or astronauts, or teachers, or mommies. I think that’s a dangerous (and boring) idea. By being rigid and fixed we set ourselves up for disappointment and potential heartache. What if you say you want to be a lawyer (say, to make your mom happy), then find out that you have a poet’s heart? (think “Dead Poets Society”) Not only aren’t you doing something you love; you might end up doing something that you hate.
You’re 22—what are your current hobbies? What do you love to do right now? What activity makes you lose track of time? What do people tell you you’re “really good at?” What did you love to do as a child? Take some time and think about all of these questions, or make up some of your own. These will give you clues to uncovering the work that’s perfect for you. I don’t think many people stay at the same job their whole lives, so maybe just focus on a first step.
What I’ve seen is that throughout the years I’ve done many things; some of them seemingly unrelated to each other (I was a Tupperware manager, I taught aerobics and worked in an antique shop, to name a few). It’s only when I look backward that I can see how all of the twists and turns have led me to where I am today (Tupperware taught me valuable management and people skills, aerobics taught me teamwork and discipline, and working in the antique shop taught me business and crucial interpersonal skills). If you do the same exercise, you begin to see how everything actually weaves together to make a perfect tapestry that becomes your life.
When I look at you I see a highly creative man, an iconoclast. A definition of iconoclast is “one who attacks established beliefs or institutions,” and that is definitely what I see that you are (of course, you need to decide for yourself if that description fits you) You don’t sit with tradition just for tradition’s sake, but are interested in making an impact in a fresh new way. And you will. But what steps could get you from here to there? If you have the time, it may be worthwhile to find an organization you believe in, and volunteer your time and services. There are so many worthy causes here in the area: from Hospice to the Humane Society to the New Life Center - heck, even the High Plains Reader! Find your passion then take action. When you start moving in a direction, you’re sending a message to the world that this is important to you - this has meaning, and you will find the world conspiring to help in every way possible. Your volunteer work may very well lead to a paying job down the road a few steps.
If volunteering isn’t a possibility, again, take the time to find your passion, then start talking to people about it. Tell everybody - friends, family, strangers in coffee shops. Watch the possibilities flow effortlessly toward you, and watch for opportunities to arise from unexpected sources. You just never know what’s possible until you walk confidently toward your dreams. As Basil King says, “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” And they will.
Regarding your friends, when they see the sparks flying in your life, they’ll most likely be inspired to live more conscious, alive lives themselves. Enthusiasm is not only contagious; it’s inevitable.
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