It is a saying that is as clichéd to Generation-Y as “We're getting absolutely wasted tonight.” All the more horrifying, “I don't know what I'm going to do with my life” might be an even more popular utterance. As a collective, we live by the code: work hard and play even harder.
As a generation defined by undecided majors and in-between jobs, we have a tough time crystallizing a career and choosing work we can imagine ourselves doing on a permanent basis. We don't feel the immediacy of our future. We've been sheltered and placated by our parents, cushioned to the harsher realities and fed on the promise of idealities. America was founded on its dreams, like a beacon it drew ship after ship, hungry, fatted only on hope.
And people have slaved away, somehow pacified, that they have given this generation a future. And we breathe that entitlement. We eat it up. We burden ourselves with outrageous debt to go to college and get a degree, get that amazing job, pay it all off and live the happily ever after.
Yet here we are, diploma in hand, in the trenches of no man's land, the vast bleak landscape proffering no promise and no answer. We have no idea what the hell we're doing. We're 10-years-old again rattling off career options in an erratic list, papering walls and people with our résumés.
It's confusion, it's a crossroad and it's the fear of the “what if.” We're paralyzed by the indelible uncertainties. What if we go into the wrong direction? What if we don't do as we're told and what if we never actually figure it out? These fears lodge themselves into us with each candle on the birthday cake. We're adults and we have to make decisions.
Some of us are lucky, we figure it out from a young age and know exactly what we want to do. We're the doctors and the lawyers and we're well on our way to success. But are these our dreams? Or are these the paths our parents pushed us on for stability and security.
The reason why this question nags and persists, the reason we blank and are suddenly incapable of speech, is that we aren't creative. We have been stripped of individuation. We have been told since we were young live by the book and nothing else.
So we never figure out what we truly enjoy doing. We're fashioned into memorizing machines, to one day become the perfect employee who slaves away at something we hate doing, because we have nothing that triggers us to excel. No one wants that, settling for mediocrity, because it's boring, and we are a generation that loves the opportunity to go above and beyond.
So this leaves us wondering, after years of school (taking Adderall before exams and cramming) and the massive loans we amass in order to become more valuable to society, what the hell are we going to do with our life?
We don't want to settle for something that won't make us happy, and unless we have a clear picture, everything else is pretty much up in the air, and requires some sort of thought process and hustle to get there.
I have multiple friends who have come to me with this very same issue. Because we're all going through this at the same time and we're all lost. They ask for my advice and hope that I have some sort of magic answer and a foolproof guide to figuring out what they want to do with their life — the truth is, I don't. It's transference. The only person that can figure out what you want to do in life is you. The only thing stopping you is fear. Be original, be bold and make waves.
This is the real world: you don't have professors, you don't have friends watching your back and you don't have guidance counselors. At the end of the day you are left alone to make these decisions. We've spent our whole lives dependent on others to get us out of situations that we feel pressured by.
Unfortunately there is no easy way out of this. There's no blanket answer that can rock you to sleep and comfort you in its arms. There's a startling realization: nothing we learned in school has prepared us for the real world and nothing is as easy as it once looked from the outside.
Congratulations you are an adult, a functioning adult, and this is a good thing. Worrying about what you are going to do with your life is the first step to figuring it out. It means you have some sort of courage inside of you to conquer this question.
Many of us get scared, scared that we will fail, scared what others will think of us and scared that we don't have the ability to figure it out on our own. Those scared people settle for the easy way out and become mediocre. If this sounds like you, the biggest mistake you can make is not doing anything about it.
Use it as a motivation to find your calling in life. Listen to it; it's your gut instinct telling you that you are going to be miserable with your life 10 years down the line. Ultimately the answer to the question of what the hell you are going to do in your life is up to you and the moment you realize that the decision is within your power, you will feel courageous enough to make it.
Figure out what you love, figure out what interests you, figure out where your creativity flourishes, so that while you are working on it, it doesn't even feel like work to you. That is what success in life is all about and that is where you find true happiness.
If you plan on tackling this issue that keeps popping up in your mind, and you wish to take life by the horns, with the courage of figuring it out, then I have no doubt that you will eventually do so. But if you are one of those people who will procrastinate and stretch it out until you are forced to take the easy way out, you dropped the ball.
Stop worrying about what others will think. Stop worrying about your résumé making sense. Stop listening to what others say to you. What you should do with your life is exactly what you want to do, and as soon as you find the courage to do so, that is when this gruesome statement will leave your mind.
Exchange “what ifs” with “I will find a way to make it all work out.” Courage and mental ability are a huge part of life.
Preston Waters | Elite.