I have not yet reached 20 years of age and I have already met two or three people who claim they are not truly thrilled by anything and that they do not know what to do with their lives. I’ve always felt sorry for them, because that is a problem I have never had. Not that I have ever know the exact, one job that I want to do for the rest of my life – not at all. But I have always known what I wanted to do with my life, allowing me to choose from a range of different jobs that might all help me reach those goals. Sometimes, my problem has not been to choose one thing in a world of things that I do not like, but to choose one thing among many different ones that I enjoy. Hence my previous text, where I tried to highlight the fact that we should not keep ourselves on the same pathway forever and that we should be (and, ultimately, we are) free to reinvent ourselves whenever we feel the need to. This, however, is a different problem, and that’s why I was never very sure about what to say to those people when they told me about their struggle. What do you tell someone who thinks he or she does not enjoy doing anything or is not good at anything in particular?
Get out there!, explore the world!, explore yourself!, try to find it and you shall! This is basically what I always end up saying to those people, cheerfully and encouragingly, as if it is really simple and easy. In fact, since this is not an experience that I’ve personally gone through, I don’t feel adequately prepared to talk about it or to describe what it feels like. I can only express my own feelings and thoughts about it, what I think those people should do… but always keeping in mind my lack of experience in that sense. In the end, I believe that my simplifying, perhaps reductionist and yet well-intentioned piece of advice is the key. My determination as to what I want to do with my life was born when I was still a child and it has always stayed with me ever since. It came from the way my family raised me, yes, from my own knowledge of myself and (in my personal belief) from a higher source of energy that other people may or may not believe in. But, ultimately, I believe that people who face this problem of not knowing what to do are struggling with one particular issue – they do not have their priorities straight. Please note: priorities here do not refer to making money or getting a stable job that will help you start a family, buy a house, get a car and pay your taxes for the rest of your life. I believe there is more to life than this, a lot more – and that’s what people often forget or underestimate.
Deep down, I believe that these indecisive people face the issue of letting themselves feel too much pressure from society – that same pressure that orders us to choose a fixed path, one box to jump into and stay there forever. Deep down, I think they may be afraid of being stuck in a box that does not allow them to free themselves, to fulfill themselves. Also, I think they lack excitement for what’s beautiful, different and new in the world. They do not seem to be surprised and charmed by anything, as if there’s nothing out there that really, really catches their eye and makes them want to explore it. After having thought about it for a while (and more than once) I have to admit that I honestly don’t understand why or how this happens. I don’t understand how people can feel as if there’s nothing out there that they can truly see themselves doing in their lives. And that’s clearly because I’ve never been in their shoes. But what I can say is this:
1 – There IS something in this world for each and every one of us. An experience, a job, a talent, a skill, something we are good at and something that does make us feel good. We live in such a vast, complex, diverse world that I’m sure every one of us has their own calling somewhere… But we can’t just expect it to show at our doorstep. We must open our eyes, we must try and find it. You can’t complain if you haven’t tried. Try and don’t give up.
2 – We must stop viewing our choices and different possibilities of life as separate, individual boxes. Society makes us think that we must choose a box we fit into, jump inside and stay there. That’s wrong. We are multidimensional creatures who change. Our traits change, our interests change, our skills evolve, we are in constant development. And the need to reinvent ourselves is nothing to be scared of. Do not think that you must choose a path and stay on it forever. Instead, ask yourself what you would like to try for now and do it. Find what you’re good at it and value it. Sometimes, we are good at something that does not look like a good future prospect. For example: being a really good sportsman or being a really good musician and being told that following through with that will not get you payed or give you a safe life. Don’t give too much importance to that. If you truly love doing it, give it a chance.
3 – Whatever you do, listen to others’ advice but always make your own choices. Nobody will ever fully, absolutely know your feelings, your character, your priorities and who you are deep down. So, since you’re the only one who can best know yourself, make sure that you make the decisions that feel good, not the ones that you think you should make. Having said that, it’s also important to listen to those who have wise words to tell you. Nobody knows everything, and being given a good piece of advice can stop you from making some mistakes. For instance: my father bugged me so much to start dancing that I ended up promising him that I’d give it a go when I turned 16. Keeping my promise, I went to my first Latin dance class when I was 16 and I found one of the greatest passions of my life. Had I not listened to my parents, I would not have found something which I love doing.
4 – In the end, always give the greatest importance to what makes you happy. It doesn’t matter if it’s unconventional. It doesn’t matter if it’s different or if it goes against the status quo. As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody (others and yourself), you should do it. I am now more categorically sure than ever before that, had I not followed my instinct and always made my choices based on my personal interests and skills, I would not be where I am today – happy.
5 – But just don’t forget that, even if you’ve chosen well, even if you’ve found something you really like, there will always be hard times. Life is always changing, which means that there will be happy times, just like there will be difficult times. The fact that you’re going through a rough patch doesn’t mean that you should give up or that things will never get better. Just keep on trying. Deep down, that’s what truly matters. Keep on trying.