I think as I’ve gotten older it’s become increasingly difficult to view the world with the same sense of wonder and idealism I once did. It seems the more I learn, the more disappointment develops, polluting the delicate steps of my dream staircase and my childhood hopes of writing for National Geographic or being a lion tamer that much further away. I think when we have lots of hopes, especially big, lofty, colorful, and from what I hear often, unrealistic dreams, it’s challenging to visualize their execution and attainment. It’s tempting to settle and allow our lives to lead us, falling into the backseat of a monotonous existence, that lends neither purpose nor happiness. But, we can’t do that – not if we’re awake and aware of who we are and of a larger world’s evolution.
I’ve dreamt of doing something that matters, of relevance, of helping the world and everything in it. I’m not exactly sure what that means now, or what it even looks like, although I’ve spent countless nights filled with racing thoughts and anxieties about the next big decision. I imagine what matters is the collective accumulation of every small contribution to the bigger whole, the one residing in my social media feeds, or in the lives and dreams of the people around me. A start up encouraging women to minimize our carbon footprint here, a cafe providing employment for those with disabilities there, a small, local business creating sustainable and reusable products. I imagine that it means making an active decision to reject a career and a life that’s built around amassing more for yourself at the cost of others, or one that encourages you to bury your heart’s true desire and calls to happiness, or one that you’re doing in a frantic grab for external power and validation, reputation, status, or a paycheck.
I’ve worked countless jobs along the road to twenty-five and although there’s been some that I’ve downright hated and often fantasized about the downfall of the company, there were some I absolutely loved and they inspired me to always seek something that fulfills me and brings me joy. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is actually the overwhelming amount of options that exist out there. Choosing one feels something like this,”THERE’S SO MANY AMAZING, AWESOME, WONDERFUL, THINGS, WHICH ONE IS THE BEST?” I think the sheer number of choices can actually be paralyzing, but it’s important to remember the incredible notion that they even exist when we start spiraling into apathy.
I spent the last few months feeling sorry for myself and complaining that I haven’t found my “niche” yet. It was shameful at best and after narrowing down my passions with a few simple words, (travel, writing, volunteering, animals, food) I can begin to piece together something that faintly (or strongly) resembles a career avenue. Maybe it won’t be all of these things, perhaps just one or two. Or maybe it will be all five because I got creative. The point is, it’s never too late for our dreams or to choose another way. They never disappear and we do not have to be victims of our circumstances. I think it’s time we change the narrative of adulthood to something that means finding our own path in a way that doesn’t compromise who we are. It doesn’t have to be an acceptance of what others say it should be or what we’re supposed to do, especially if that equates to settling into a life that kills our creativity and expression.
As long as we don’t give up on ourselves, there’s always hope.