As I sit at my desk, binge watching Forensic Files and Googling this week’s past celebrity scandals, I can’t help but wonder, am I useless? That one word may be perceived a bit more intensely than I intend it to be, so I will elaborate by saying that I feel my most useless when I am not accomplishing something that I desperately want. It could be as simple as skipping a workout to just lie in bed and read a few blogs. Or even choosing a simpler option for dinner than taking a bit more time to make something I know I will enjoy more. This idea of uselessness is particularly present with the thought of careers and what I believe I should be doing with my life.
We all think we are good at something—good enough to be paid for doing it. It could be something physical or something cerebral. Regardless of the type of work, it’s there, tugging at me, telling me that I should be doing that for the pay I get at my monotonous office job. The office job I spend 8 hours a day at, eating at the same time, using the washroom at the same time, drinking coffee at the same time. Doing so many things at a specific time that it feels almost impossible to bust out of that predetermined schedule and do what I want to do, when I want to do it. So, I succumb to coming home at the same time, eating dinner, and crawling into bed to watch a few shows before performing the same dance again tomorrow.
Do I feel accomplished after this? Perhaps, if we are discussing the scope of work at my day job. But, deep down, do I feel like I’ve accomplished what I’m good at? Have I reached into my core and strum the delicate cords of passion and incited jitters of uncontrollable excitement? At this specific moment in my 20’s, I can’t say that I have. Sure, I’ve succeeded in reaching certain goals I’ve set for myself (Graduate university, pay off student loans, sustain a long-term relationship with someone who is worth it), but reaching the high provided by a passion is still a long way ahead of me. Maybe I’ll never reach it.
I can’t help but blame these feelings of untapped potential on the overwhelming notion of ‘careers’. To be successful, as determined by those around me, I have to find a place of work that will accept me, put me through the ringer of stress and anxiety (over things I don’t necessarily enjoy), before fully accepting me as one of their own. It’s like a sorority, but one you’re stuck in until retirement and without nearly as many jell-o shots and bonfires (Disclaimer: I was never in a sorority, so I’m not sure of the details). If you’re lucky, you get benefits right away. If not, you have to suffer through a few years of bad dental care and the same outdated pair of glasses from five years ago that never suited you but they were in style at the time.
All these emotions of dissatisfaction and incompleteness are then bookended with questions from those around me, like, “Have you looked into more jobs in [insert career field of desperate desire]?” or “So, are the kids on the way yet?” *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*. What I’m beginning to understand is that many people believe there is a path your or anyone’s life in a developed country should take, and if you’ve missed the first train to that destination then you’re screwed. However, as I grow older I inevitably grow just a tad bit wiser I understand that despite all the nudges or judgmental glares everyone experiences life at their own pace. Some of my peers have already bought houses or completed graduate school in a much more specified field than mine, but that isn’t to say that what the rest of us are doing isn’t just as difficult, draining, or emotionally satisfying.
There is a part of me that can easily fall into the habit of a career completely outside of my interests for the next 20 years, but will that be fulfilling enough? I think many of us struggle with this thought of fulfillment because of how we are meant to perceive it. Sure, making a good salary will fulfill a certain aspect of my life, but may not outweigh the joy and excitement of others. That desire to do what we love will scratch at us no matter what outside sources say and despite how impractical it might be. When everything is said and done, I believe that finding a balance between what you love and what gives you the financial and emotional freedom to pursue this love is key. There will definitely be times when we feel discouraged and bored of a mundane lifestyle, but it is important to remember that what we do as a job is not always who we are. Experiences will always be there, but you may have to wait a little longer to attain the ones want.