I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m 24 and still don’t know. Even with a journalism degree and the beginning of my fitness qualification complete, I remain in a state of limbo. What is my passion? What is my purpose? What direction is my life heading?
When I was younger, I always thought things would one day just click. You know, that at some point I would suddenly have a lightbulb moment and ‘ding!’ I’d know exactly what I was meant to do with my life. Nope. It appears that is not the case.
I will forever be in awe of those people who have always known what they wanted to be when they grew up. The lucky ones who, for as long as they can remember, have had a burning desire for something and then followed that passion into a career. Sadly, I’m not one of those lucky people. I thought by now that I would have at least some idea. Perhaps just a little more direction. But I’m still so far from figuring that out and to be honest, it kind of worries me.
Not knowing ‘what I want to do with my life’ is a fear that has led me to a point of panicked anxiety many of times. 24 and still clueless. 24 and still no career. 24 and still working in retail. This is not ok. I need to get my life together! …or at least, that’s the way I used to think! Now I realize, there is so much more to life than what I do for a job.
Many of my ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ moments have come either when meeting people for the first time or bumping into an old acquaintance. I recently had a bit of meltdown after an event in which I saw a whole bunch of school friends I hadn’t seen in years. When it came to starting conversations with these people, one of the first questions asked was always ‘so, what are you doing with yourself now?’ I’d have to say ‘I’m still working at Dymocks’ – and every time I uttered those words I felt like I was a failure. I felt like I was being judged for still working in retail. I felt like I had to follow up that sentence with an explanation of ‘I’m still working out what I want to pursue career-wise’ or ‘at least it pays the bills’ or ‘I still want to travel so I don’t want a career yet’. All of which are true, but still, when speaking to a 24-year-old lawyer or engineer I still felt pretty damn inferior.
Since that night and the quarter-life-crisis meltdown that followed, I have come to an important realization. Along with some encouraging words from a beautiful friend, not only was I reminded that what others think of me doesn’t even matter, but I also have come to realize that there’s so much more to a person than what they do for a living.
What you DO doesn’t define you. Where you work, where you live, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, what you’ve studied, the things you own… None of these things define you as a person. Society loves labels. People love labels. Everyone is always trying to define one another with some kind of label. Lawyer. Doctor. Model. Sales assistant. Photographer. Builder. These are all things people DO, but it is not WHO they are.
What really defines you is a your character, your personality, your heart, your mentality, your spirituality, your values – these are the things that make you, you. Everything else; the worldly possessions, the job descriptions, the labels, the outward appearances are nothing more than just a shell encompassing the real truth of who you are.
Who says you HAVE to have a career anyway? Who decided we all have know what we want to do with the rest of your lives by the time we are 25? What does it matter if you are still working a ‘job’, not a ‘career’ when you are 30, 40, even 60? If you are happy, so what?
I can honestly say I am happy in my job. Unlike a lot of people I know, I don’t dread going into work every day. I work with a wonderful bunch of people who make each day a joy and it’s a great, positive environment. Sure, I may not want to be in retail forever, but until I know what it is I want to do I’m not going to leave a position I am happy in merely to satisfy an ideology placed on me by society.
I would hate to think people just look at me and only see ‘bookseller’ or ‘sales assistant’ – not because I am ashamed of what I do, but because that’s not who I am. That’s just what I do for work. To pay my rent, buy my food, and to support myself. And do you know what? That in itself is something to be proud of. I support myself completely. I may be feeling a little lost at the moment but I still have ambition and dreams to be more than a sales assistant. But even if I was a entrepreneur or a CEO, it wouldn’t matter because I would still introduce myself with my name, not my job role.
I think we need to ask each other different questions. Less ‘what do you do?’ or ‘where do you work?’ and more ‘what makes you happy? or ‘what do you love?’. These are the things that reveal the most about a person – their character. Better yet, how about we aim to get to know people for the person they are, rather than judging them based on their job title?
Something to think about…
Love Elo xx