Write down every idea you have about where you’re supposed to be in your life. Do this exhaustively. Are you supposed to be thinner? More loved? More productive? More educated? Describe everything that you feel you should be in great detail.
Now, take your writing to a nice quiet place outdoors and set fire to it. What you’ve written is almost assuredly other people’s ideas of what success is for you and/or things you’re not truly going to work toward anyway. In truth, your list is simply an ongoing tab of things to feel guilty and otherwise shitty about.
Maybe you’ll go to someone like me for therapy because it’s not working out and you feel like you’re not good enough. To which I ask:
For who? (No, really – for who?) (Not you.)
It’s time for some new ideas. More importantly, it’s time to find your own voice. Not your mother’s, not your partner’s, your boss’ or any of the other folks that criticize you from inside in your head.
You get to choose what the focus of your life will be. Most folks never do, which has everything to do with why they’re unhappy, bored, and boring. They’re living some version of keeping up with the Jones’ and pretending that they know what they’re doing.
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.” – Baz Luhrman “Sunscreen”
We were given this idea that what we do with our lives is a singular mission like a vocation or at best a series of roles to play: mother, daughter, friend, professional, partner, etc. I recommend Luhrman’s speech because it goes to the heart of the matter:
It’s not about what you do or merely who you are to others. It’s about who you are to you and how you choose to live. It’s about having “joie de vivre” (joy of living). It’s what you choose to invest through vulnerability with yourself and others.
It’s about taking risks, tolerating failures and being resilient These things are easy to accept and practice in our youth. Too many of us traded this way of living off for a safe partner, an affordable mortgage and job security.
Ask yourself what you want the focus of your life to be. There’s nothing more bad ass than becoming the person you most want to be.