It’s throwback time!
Let’s wind the clock back, all the way to our primary school years. Remember how you’d observe the P6s – how tall and old and worldly they seemed. Or even peering at our seniors as a lowly Sec 1 kid, having just lost your place as top dog in the school. Now that you think about it, they were a mere three years older but it still seemed ages away.
Growing up, we’d plot our futures – financially independent with a house… married with your first kid… I for one, definitely wanted a dog. We’d have it all together. And we’d do it by the distant, arbitrary age of… let’s say 27.
Now, fast forward to present day. Whether you’ve just hit the big 2-1 or are edging toward the dreaded realm of the mid-twenties, suddenly 27 doesn’t seem so far away. And suddenly, you realise you’re not going to wake up one day and be an adult. Things aren’t going to magically fall into place. In fact, you have no idea what you’re doing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It’s an interview question staple. And if it’s not 5 years, it’s 10. Having grand vision for ourselves indicates ambition, drive, a sense of self and what we want out of life. It’s been drummed into us that we need to know where we’re headed and a timeline to our eventual success. We need a master plan – or so society claims. There are benchmarks we need to meet – the steady relationship (let’s not even discuss the impending CNY doom a.k.a interrogation about our love lives), the dream job, a flourishing family. And if you haven’t checked these boxes, well… you done f#*ked up, haven’t you?
The pressure to be perfect is intense – it’s okay if you crack a little. This isn’t even factoring in our obsessively curated social media feeds, just another method in which we stack ourselves up against the flawless and highly photogenic lives of family and friends. While we’re so busy trying to plan our lives down to the minute details, we forget that sometimes there are elements of life that are simply beyond our control. As the (instagram sourced) saying goes – life happens; coffee helps.
We’re all scared of failure, and rightly so. No one wants to go after something only to fall short. But when we equate something not going right as outright failure, we’re telling ourselves it’s all essentially wasted time.
We believe that settling into a particular university course will dictate our career for the next 40 years – never mind that we had to pick our degrees fresh out of JC knowing very little of ourselves and the world. God forbid we swap majors or deviate from the career path it sets out for us. Or if a long term relationship ends, the fact that it didn’t end in marriage makes it a failure as well.
In doing so, we end up negating all the things we’ve learned along the way. Through trying a bunch of things and changing your mind every now and again, you’re not wasting time, you’re getting to know yourself a little better. Life is a series of trial and error, and what you’re doing is learning.
So now that we’ve established that feeling a little lost does NOT make you a failure, here’s something else to chew on. If you’re wondering what the heck you’re doing with your life, perhaps it means you’re in a sort of limbo. Maybe you’re in the process of realising what you once wanted for yourself no longer holds true now. Give yourself permission to be fluid and flexible. People change, circumstances change and so will your ambitions.
Here’s why not knowing is a good thing – you channel it into fuel and let it feed your drive. Because no one ever really has it all figured out, and operating under the illusion that you do and you have your path laid out before you kills that hunger.
What do you want?
Screw knowing what you’re going to do with your life – it’s time to tweak this existential spiral of question. Think about what you’re doing today instead. It’s great to have a clear plan and an end goal in mind but if you don’t, well that’s just fine too. And the best bet to give yourself one is taking baby steps. Ask yourself “what do I want” – not some grand, hazy notion to come to pass in 30 years time, but in everyday things.
What interests you? Who are the important people in your life? What do you like about yourself? What are things you might want to change? A little bit of introspection never hurt anyone. Explore how your values govern how you make decisions. The core truths will emerge, the ones that will carry you through career changes, relationship upsets and low key existential crises.
So f#*k not knowing what the f#*k you’re doing with your life, because life will always be plagued with some element of uncertainty. Work on yourself instead, because security in who you are is one of the best navigational tools in your arsenal.