I noticed a Facebook update recently from a childhood friend, who has recently decided to go back to college to pursue a degree in Psychology. It must be convenient to have ones life planned out just like the plot of a paperback novel. In life, I have not been so lucky; I haven’t gotten it all figured out just yet.
At age 16, I was convinced that the first girl I had feelings for would be my wife, and we would have a relationship the likes of which would be comparable to a fairy tale novel. By age 18, I was certain that I would graduate college with a degree in 4 years, then I would return to complete my masters degree in computer science. At age 20, I was certain that I would turn my summer job as a camp counselor into a lifelong career, and that I would have enough money from my summer job to live when I was not working at summer camp.
By the time I turned 21, none of these things ever came to pass. All my life, I have spent countless hours trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I thought I knew what I wanted when I was 17; now I’m 35, and I still don’t know. The only thing that has changed is my perception of how the world works. In my younger days, I was convinced that the world was indeed my oyster, and that everything I ever wanted was there for the taking, and that all I had to do was to go through the motions, and jump through the hoops necessary to achieve my dreams.
It seems that our modern day society teaches our young people to believe that their dreams are there for the taking, and that with enough effort, they will automatically be granted. However, as an adult, I have come to realize that this is not necessarily the case. There are exist an infinite number of factors which shape our destiny, many of which are completely beyond our control. I wish my parents had taught me this lesson when I was still a child, before I had to experience life as an adult for several years before the reality set in.
And another thing I’ve learned is that not everybody is a winner all the time. Sometimes you win, other times you lose. However, the only thing that makes some a failure is one who accepts defeat, and forgoes the desire to keep trying.
Living a life of indecision, or an ever-changing mind leaves opportunity wide open; I take life as it comes, seeking vocational opportunities as they arise, and seek them mostly out of necessity or curiosity. I have learned from a life of unpredictability, specifically, one very important lesson, which I will devote an entire paragraph to explain…
In life, the vast majority of the people you will meet have no idea what they are talking about, and have absolutely no evidence to back up their claims. I haven’t gotten it all figured out just yet, but I can honestly say that the majority of people you will meet are full of shit. My high school chemistry teacher? Full of shit. A handful of my college professors? Full of shit. And yes, even my parents, although right the majority of the time were full of shit on occasion. Everyone is fallible, including me and you.
In life, one must remain curious, and keep an open mind. Never stop exploring, never stop learning, and never ever accept defeat, even in the face of tremendous adversity.
This post was inspired, partly, by Questions I Have For People Who Have Their Life Figured Out on Thought Catalog. The header image was taken of me by my late father in the summer of 1992.