“What do you want to do with your life?”
I was asked this question last night over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant.
It was a serious, black-or-white question presented in a relaxed and colorful setting.
As I sipped my margarita, I was a deer in headlights. Frozen, confused, flabbergasted.
‘Shit. What do I want to do with my life?”
Even at age 28, it’s a powerful question that I can’t confidently find the answer to after all these years of work and education.
Even after four years of obtaining a bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University, two years of immersing myself in graduate
torture education in Exercise Science while working full-time, and taking a year off in Brazil to find myself and purpose, I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.
Oddly enough, I find this question is asked a lot: by family members, friends, acquaintances, and even random strangers we meet drunk in the bathroom at the bar.
“What do you want to do with your life?”
Do I need to know? Does anyone need to know?
Absolutely not. Because…
The truth is: no one knows what the fuck they are doing.
There, I said it. And while this may offend some people, great. Let’s fucking ruffle some feathers.
Alas, at the same time, this should be comforting. There’s relief in not knowing what you’re doing, where you’re going, or who you’re becoming.
For me, this notion of uncertainty is exciting. Looking back to childhood, it’s tantamount to going to DisneyWorld for the first time. I didn’t know what I was going to experience or who I was going to meet, or what characters would sign my hot pink autograph book, but I was excited for the magical adventure ahead.
Why can’t us adults be like our childhood selves and embrace spontaneity with giddy zest?
After all, adult life is an endless, unfolding process glimmered with uncertain events like DisneyWorld.
One day, we experience glorious days that sparkle like Tinker Bell. And the next day, we experience life’s sharp claws like Scar from Lion King.
You see, even DisneyWorld wasn’t perfect, nor did it go as planned. So what the fuck makes you think life will be this way?
So, I say lean into the madness. Find marvel in the unknown. Be in awe of the totality of life and the human condition. Find solace in not knowing what the fuck you’re doing with your life.
Because, no one fucking knows. We’re all in this beautiful shit storm together.
Perhaps you wanted to be a doctor when you were kid, and now you’re a retail manager at Victoria’s Secret.
Perhaps you wanted to be an astronaut, and now you’re a sports broadcaster.
Perhaps you wanted to be a police officer, and now you’re a nun.
Perhaps you wanted to be a vegan, and now you’re a hot dog eating competitor.
Excuse me, but what the actual fuck?
People are changing their life paths all the time. And more often than not, humans change their career on average 3-4 times during their lives. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
I think what throws people off is our current paradigm, which says you have to do one thing the rest of your life and fit into a perfect, little box.
Not only is this notion unrealistic, but it goes against our biological instincts. As humans grow, we adopt new hobbies, meet new people, explore new passions, or expand our creative geniuses. It’s normal to evolve.
After all, we wouldn’t be humans if we didn’t. According to Neale Donald Walsch from Awaken the Species (which is a book I highly recommend), humans are here to learn, grow, and help each other get to the next level.
Funny enough, I get asked all the time, “wait, so you’re going to be a coach the rest of your life?”
Shit. Who the hell said that?
Personally, I’d like to, but if I will, I don’t know. While I’d like to be a coach the rest of my life, I also want to grow. I enjoy it, and will continue it as long as it serves me and others, but I also like research, and new challenges, and I may go after my phD when I get bored, I may teach, and I may release a book end of this year.
Expounding further on the theme of uncertainty, I knew I loved writing in college, but never did I exclaim, “I want to be a writer when I grow up.”
Instead, my writing was an organic process that happened as a fluke over time. I enjoyed doing it, so kept at it, and put out content relentlessly because I got a buzz from creating.
Now, I write part-time, which is pretty dope that a creative passion turned into a paid job.
But again, I didn’t map any of this out. I didn’t plot to write and take over the world and make millions with my prose. Rather, I poured my heart into my writing pursuits, and allowed the Universe to take care of the rest.
Normally, the Universe comes through. Every. Single. Time.
So I beg you to just flow with the tide and accept it’s okay to not know what you want to be.
This reminds me, the other day, I had a conversation with a sport scientist who has well over a decade of experience under his belt.
He said to me, “Erica, I still am trying to decide what I want to be when I’m older.”
For someone who I thought should have it all figured out by now, was just as confused as I was. This made me recognize the reality of uncertainty even more. It’s all around us, even in people we would label as “having it all figured out.”
Conversely, I see uncertainty being a coach of youth soccer players. I have kids who make plans to play Division 1, but end up with full rides (and happy, rich parents) to wonderful Division 3 schools with a starting position and playing time.
Of course, against the original plan, but still working out beautifully for everyone.
And you know what?
It always works out.
If you have a plan, don’t be surprised if it leaves you in a completely unexpected corner of the Earth.
And if you don’t have a plan, don’t be surprised if you end up in a completely perfect corner of the Earth. ;-O