All my life, I’ve been searching for answers.
Like most little kids, my favorite question was “Why?” I’d ask my mom about everything and anything, wanting to know why people did the things they did, how things worked, and what my mom thought about them.
As a teenager, I explored different experiences to find who I was and who I wasn’t. I tried being the over-achiever, the slacker, the arty kid, the theater kid, the choir kid, the daredevil, the music snob, the loner, and the social butterfly (at least as much as I could manage it).
Now, I’m a young adult. I’ve got an idea of how the world works and who I am. But like most young adults, I’ve struggled with another big question: what do I want in life?
For the past few months, this question has been interrupting my life almost every waking moment. It all started with my ex Jessie telling me that all of his relationships have fallen apart because he’s still in love with me. While this wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation, it still threw me off guard and left me thinking, “What am I supposed to do with this information?” That got me looking at my current relationship with my boyfriend Fred. Would our relationship allow me to pursue my dreams of traveling in the future? Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. And then I started thinking about the other big black hole in my future: my degree and my career. I thought I knew what I wanted, but the hoops I have to jump through to get there sound miserable. So, all day everyday I have been thinking, “What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?”
The more I realized I hadn’t thought things out, the more questions seemed to be hurdled at me: do I want to get a Ph.D? Do I want to be in a relationship with Jessie? Am I willing to give up on travel? What type of job should I pursue if I don’t get my Ph.D? Would I be willing to let Jessie go? Would I be willing to let Fred go? Should I just be on my own? Should I start traveling now? What do I do if I take a year off? How did I not think about all of this before now?
The trouble with happiness (as weird as it sounds) is that you quit questioning things. The way that sadness makes you hyper-analyze your life, happiness makes you under-analyze your life. After all, if you’re happy, why should things change? Isn’t that the goal, to be happy?
When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to change peoples’ lives. Probably not in a fancy way, like being president or discovering a planet, but changing them in a small, meaningful way. That’s why I chose to pursue psychology, so I could help people manage their everyday lives. I also knew I wanted to travel, to see every continent (except maybe Antarctica) and discover how other people live, and how different life could be. I held these two goals close to my heart and promised myself that no matter how far away they seemed, that I would do them because that is just who I am…I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have these goals.
Now, I’m in my early twenties, and I feel as though every decision I make right now will influence whether or not those goals will become accomplished. I’m terrified of waking up in ten years, stuck, and wishing I had done something different. I’m terrified of choosing wrong, and being unable to make it right.
So I had to make a choice. It all happened in one night, when I sat down with my mom and told her everything I had been thinking. I didn’t exactly want her to tell me what I should do, more like her perspective. What did she want when she was my age? Did she get what she wanted? What about the things she didn’t get—does she regret the decisions that stopped her from getting them? What happened? What changed?
Basically, that conversation with her reminded me of every other moment of doubt in my life. Time after time, I’d feel so lost and helpless…and what did I do? I did what I had to. I chose a college, I chose a degree, I chose to drop out, I chose to go to therapy and get medication, I chose to go back to school. I’ve always done what I had to, and when I found myself lost again I made a change. No matter what has happened, when I’ve had no other choice than to trust myself, I’ve ended up happy and content in the end.
So I chose to make it work with my boyfriend, and try to let Jessie go. I chose to pick a career within psychology that would get me a job easily, so I could have the money to go back to school later if I didn’t like it. I chose to make a choice—to suck it up, pick a direction, and trust that I’d take myself where I needed to go.
Weeks later, I’m more or less the same. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to get into grad school, and I’m still working on letting go of Jessie, despite not talking to him for weeks. But I feel better, I feel confident in a weird way. I may still be a little lost, but I know it won’t last forever. Eventually I’ll move on to different problems, circumstances in my life will change, and I’ll still be the one calling the shots. The problems I’m stuck on now will seem smaller; the insecurities I face will have faded. Life goes on.
So maybe down the road I’ll change my grad school plans. Maybe I’ll decide to travel on my own. Maybe it won’t work out with Fred, maybe it will be too late with Jessie. No matter how scary it gets, no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. I’ve kept myself safe thus far, and I know I’ll do it again.
Posted on 10/02/2016, in This Whole "Life" Thing, Who The Hell Am I? & Other Stuff You Ask Yourself and tagged college, decisions, goals, relationships, the future, trust. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.