[Note: This article was originally published as a guest post on Diana Antholis' Enter: Adulthood. You can check out the original version right here. Why do I love Diana? Mostly because she was ballsy enough to change colleges, move across the country multiple times, change careers, and then quit it all to become an entrepreneur. "Life is too short to be miserable at work," says Diana. If you're unhappy at your job, then read her inspiring post on changing careers-- it's one of my favorites.]
“So what do you want to do with your life?” asks the lady sitting next to you.
She stares at you through wire-framed glasses, her thins lips pursing as she looks at you expectantly.
“Um.” You shift around in your seat, searching for an escape.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” You unbuckle your seatbelt and squeeze your way to the back of the plane, shoving yourself into the smelly lavatory. You’d rather sit here in this locker-of-a-room and stare at the smoke detector than answer some stranger’s questions about life.
The truth is, you don’t have an effing clue. You don’t know what you want to do with your life or whether you’re even qualified for a “real job” at all. You have no idea where you want to live or who you’re gonna marry or what you’ll name your firstborn child. To be honest, you don’t really know who you are at all.
The only thing you do know is that you want a beer. Or maybe a margarita. Yeah, that would be nice.
I mean, up until now your entire life has pretty much been planned out for you: show up at school for 12 years, choose a college, work a summer job, party like you mean it— that stuff’s easy. But once you enter the real world, there’s no set plan and there’s no one to guide you. You still feel like the same lost old kid waiting for directions, waiting for someone to tell you what your next move should be. How are you suddenly supposed to know everything?
Here’s the secret, guys: you aren’t.
That’s right— against every expectation that you feel pulling at you, you aren’t supposed to have it all figured out.
And you know what? That’s a good thing.
Yeah, you heard me right. There’s not a bug in your ear— I said that it’s a good thing.
Think of it this way: if you didn’t have questions, you’d be content to take the path of least resistance. You’d take the job that came easiest, the job that came quickest, and you’d stay there— even if you never felt it was what you were meant to do.
You’d take the relationship that came easiest, the relationship that came quickest, and you’d stay there— even if you were never sure he or she was the right person for you.
You’d stay put in this town forever, even though your heartstrings tugged at you and beckoned you elsewhere.
If you never had questions, you’d never become the real YOU. You’d be passively shaped into a strange and inauthentic blob, a far cry from your true self. Having questions, having that sense that you’re lost— it’s a gift. It’s a gift because without it, you would never embark on that strange, confusing, arduous, but totally worthwhile journey that will eventually lead you home.
So listen up. Your questions are here for a reason: to lead you onto the path you were meant to take; to shape you into the person you were meant to become; to help you discover who you really are.
It’s not always an easy path, and it’s not always a quick one. You don’t usually get there overnight— it’s a journey, one in which you’ll likely take many wrong turns.
Why can’t it be easier and quicker and clearer? Simply because the map to your soul has never before been drawn. It’s a path that you alone can forge, one that can never be traveled by anyone but you. There are no answers except the ones that are buried deep within your own heart. This is why it’s so difficult, but it’s also why it’s worth it.
In the end, though, even the wrong turns are the right turns. They’re a part of the journey because they help show you where the path is not. Over time, through a series of twists and turns and dead ends, you’ll find that the path becomes clearer and clearer.
Trust me on this— my own story is the perfect example.
So let the questions in; let them guide you toward your best self. Questions are a gift, not a curse, and feeling lost is a sure sign that you’re headed toward the answers. So give thanks for the questions. Embrace them, for they are what will lead you home.
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[Image by Shattered Infinity]