Navigating Not Knowing What to Do with Your Life, and Feeling Fine with It
Career planning class in high school; Our teacher made us go through a pile of different personality tests that we're supposed to unfold my true calling in life (yes, at 16 years old). I immediately felt this panic taking over my body as I realized I had the classic “Will never truly know what they want to do” personality type. The Myers Briggs, the psychological inventory, the enneagram, the 16 personalities, they were all agreeing; for me, there would be many forks on the road, and it would be chaotic.
It seemed that everyone around me had it figured out—certainly more than me. My anxious brain came to the conclusion that all failures and unhappiness in my life must be directly related to this career thing. It has to be the key to a perfect life right? This feeling lurked in the back of my brain and pitched its tent there for a long time, greatly affecting my self-esteem (and my wallet) as I would try too many different new ventures, studies, and classes without really feeling like doing the work. This would all lead to quickly dissociating and having a negative outlook on life. I would blank when people would ask: What do you do? What do you want to be? What are your skills? I just didn't have a simple answer, and it made me realize that it is hard to feel whole when all those questions are unanswered.
However, through many nights of crying, panicking over my life, and putting all my personal value into careers, starting a business, or daydreaming of this super cool fictional job where there would be huge windows and monstera plants and cool people with funky glasses that would drink third wave coffee in my brick-walled office, I've come to realize through conversations with people who seemed to have those things, that it didn't fill any of the voids, stress, loneliness, depression, trauma, or grief that life can bring in your life. Even if it takes a lot of work and personal soul-searching, it is crucial to try to find peace and be comfortable with ourselves even in seasons of uncertainty—when we do not have much going on.
I started to ask myself questions like:
Do I love my friends and loved ones because of their jobs?
Do I really believe one needs to make money out of a passion for it to be valid?
Does one's personal value shift to nothing past their 9 to 5?
Once I checked the “no” box to all those questions, I realized that none of these statements reflected my personal values—and from conversations with many humans I believe I am not alone in this situation.
Overtime, I have met a couple people like me who also can’t define themselves and are still starting to figure out what they want to do with their life. A metaphor that illustrates this well is the piece of a puzzle that is only one plain color on a very complex Monet painting. Some pieces seem really easy to place as they appear to have a clear design, something noticeable, a specific quality, a connection with another one. However the whole picture would never be complete without all components and the complexity and beauty of an image is attributed to all its pieces whether they are easy or hard to place.
At the end, our natural desire to anchor in our identity and find who we truly are is a perfectly normal and very intrinsec force in our life and we all link it to our own things and patterns. We all actualize ourselves in various ways. It is of the most importance however, to be able to meet yourself where you are, to sit down in the chaos, take a deep breath and be fine with not really knowing in the moment.
This piece was written and contributed by:
Roxanne is a 26-year-old woman who is passionate with constantly learning new things, reading and writing and appreciating art in all its forms. With 10 years of experience working with children and their families, she navigates life the best she can with the hope of always keeping a sense of wonder and a light heart.