Dear Twenty-Something: Trust in your unique path.

“..Each of us is unique and every life is different. The gift of being human is that we have deep creative resources and from these we can continuously transform our lives if we choose. Whether you aim to change the whole world or the world within you, the limits are set as much by your imagination as by your current circumstances. This has been true for all people since the beginnings of human history. 

Your own quest has never been taken before. But the nature of life’s journey is as ancient as humanity itself. Writers and philosophers down through the ages have pointed to the same principles, and they lie at the heart of all the great myths and stories of human adventure and achievement.” 

 – Ken Robinson

I mentioned after using my Happiness Planner, I had more mental clarity than I’ve had in a long time. I wanted to expand a little on that.

I realised that you have to make the decision to stop worrying about something before your thinking starts to change. In my case I had to decide that worrying “what path I was going to pursue” and accept that going round in circles in my head was not going to improve my chances of coming to any conclusions. I learnt to be a little bit more excited that I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing in five years rather than..scared shitless.

“Clarity come from engagement not thinking”.

 – Marie Forleo

You have to do things before you can decide if they might be something you want to pursue. (For me; volunteer in a school, do work experience at a newspaper, take that internship at the PR firm etc etc.)

I decided that staying present, working hard, doing my research and balancing my multiple interests in a conscious, focused way was in fact enough. 

Making that decision changed my day to day life because I was no longer plagued with “so what are you going to do in a year’s time?” ,”How are you going to make money pursuing that path then?”, “What will people think if you say you’re doing that?!”.

Every time I found myself thinking along these lines or going around in circles weighing up teaching versus journalism, art therapy versus drama, I stopped myself. I brought myself back to the present and the reminder that I’m not at the fork in the road yet, and when I am, I will know what to do. (Weighing up pros and cons, doing research and looking to the future are of course positive things to do – if you’re getting something out of it besides a headache and a constant feeling of confusion and sometimes even impending doom.) I am a big believer in goals and working towards them, but goals involve thinking then being proactive. -Goals aren’t just think think think.

I stopped labelling myself a “drifter”, or someone that chops and changes and can’t commit to anything. I forgave myself for past mistakes. I let it go. Instead I told myself; “I commit 100% to the things I enjoy, I change course if I know I’m not going to be able to give it my all”.  – In short, a little background; I started one University degree course in the past – straight out of school- that didn’t work out; then another course a year later and became pregnant so had to leave after a year. That’s two courses. I’d left University twice.  I left the first course because it wasn’t right for me and the second because I wanted to be at home to raise my baby. I’ve felt pretty shit about both ever since as if it said something about me, that I’m not driven, that I can’t stick with anything. The truth was that neither course was right for me, hence the lack of focus. They were both mistakes. Mistakes that led me to courses, internships and work experience I would never have dreamed of doing beforehand. I’ve done things I would never have thought of doing straight out of school. Amazing things have come out of those two “mistakes”.

“In life, the things that go wrong are often the very things that lead to other things going right.”

– Arianna Huffington.

Deciding I was going to focus on one day at a time, on working hard in the present as opposed to trying to map out the next five years (with minimal success) helped a great deal toward my overall happiness.

I also felt grateful that this was even a “problem” for me; deciding what to do for a living. – Having a variety of opportunities to potentially pursue just isn’t the case for many twenty-somethings around the world. – I am privileged and grateful, and also slightly embarrassed that I even made this into an issue in the first place. Yes, it’s a big deal what you choose to pursue because you spend most of your waking hours at work, and it would be great if you enjoyed what you do and were proud of it. – But most people don’t get that first time round. Twenty-somethings don’t just walk straight into their dream job/career straight out of school or University. – Some do, but a lot won’t. – But does this mean they’ll be any less successful? Any less fulfilled in the long run? No, because they find their way. Which is what I know will happen to the friends I have who don’t quite know what they’re doing yet, have so much anxiety, but are amazing, able people with intelligence, focus and drive. – Who all have something unique and brilliant to bring to the table.

It’s not as if you decide on a career, or a job and you’re chained to it for the next forty years. ( I try and remind myself this, because we all get to a point where we just have to take a leap of faith, make a decision and trust our instincts). They say nowadays people are more likely to have four or five different careers in their lifetime, maybe even more, which is good news for me.

Because I can’t seem to stop recommending books in these blog posts, here’s one I found particularly inspiring with regard to this post:

Finding your Element:
How to discover your Talents and Passions and Transform your life.
By Ken Robinson

So keep moving forward, keep working hard, and trust in your unique path.

(My unique path… to Maia’s nursery, can’t quite see round the corner…but that’s quite okay) 


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