When I was 9 I knew what I wanted to be. When I was 12, I changed my mind. When I was 15 I changed it again and I was sure this was it this time, most definitely… But then I’ve changed my mind probably upwards of 17 times since (I tend to be “sure” about a lot of things that aren’t sure it seems).
So somewhere around the time I started having to choose my major for college, I kind of freaked out. I chose to not choose one yet, because hey, I’m just in a junior college and who even cares right now. I started taking classes (only a few at a time – thanks full time job) thinking that trying things out would narrow down what I’d be good at and passionate about for the rest of my life.
It didn’t. Actually, it made it worse. Turns out, if I don’t completely suck at something (sports, math, physics), I’m probably pretty decent at it. My english teachers urged me to become a writing major, my public speaking teacher told me I needed to be a communications major and should think about participating on the speech team (he was the coach), and my acting teachers have told me I have a natural talent. Now, you’re probably reading this like “Kaitlin, this really doesn’t sound like a problem… If you’re good at these things then why not just choose one?”
Great question. And I wish I could give you an actual answer that would actually make sense. But the only answer I have to that question is “I don’t know which one I want to do.” So instead of just choosing something, I keep finding myself freezing in fear and asking people around me “Am I good at this? Do you think I could do this? Would you think I’m stupid if I did this?” I look to everyone for my answers. “Someone, please, confirm that I’m good at something, that this is what I should be doing with my life. Someone please tell me what I want to do!” (Yeah, I know, seeing it typed out on my computer screen makes me realize I sound pretty insane, but I’m betting you’ve probably been in a place like this too).
I have thought for most of my late teens up until now that there is one thing that I can do to make me happy for the rest of my life. Just like I thought there was one person that would make me happy for the rest of my life (turns out there is, it’s just Someone else). Well, what if there isn’t one career path that will fill me with joy for the rest of forever? What if there isn’t one that I will be so passionate about right away that I do everything to chase after it with everything I have? Like, does it even work that way? Is there even a wrong answer to what I should do? It’s like the age-old question: which came first – the chicken or the egg? Except it’s: which came first – the passion or the action? Maybe I have to step out in faith and choose something I’m good at and passion will grow from there. Maybe I need to stop writing my lists of pros and cons (which I learned to do from Rory Gilmore, thanks Rory), and just let it happen without hovering over myself. Everything has a downside, everything is hard or annoying or exhausting at times, but sometimes all of that is worth it if you’re happy with your choice.
I don’t have the answers to this question quite yet (sorry to disappoint). I still don’t know what to choose (or if the chicken came before the egg), but I’ve come to realize that maybe the choice itself isn’t what I should be stressing out about. Or really, maybe I shouldn’t be forcing myself or rushing myself to find an answer ASAP. I know I’ll need to choose something one day, but trying to speed up the process and force myself into something to do for the rest of my life is ruining all of the fun and adventure of the process itself. I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself because I want to please everyone else (I’m a serious people-pleaser, it’s a problem). Maybe it’s more important to enjoy this season of learning about myself and this huge magnificent world and go from there.
Being young is such a blessing. There’s this song that’s on my new favorite playlist called “Lost Stars” by Adam Levine (sidenote: my heart is broken that he just got married – insert dramatic sad emoji face here) that says “God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young”. Yeah, Adam Levine! Why do we waste our youth? This is our time to explore! Before we have to settle into a real life 9-5 career or before we get married or have a mortgage to pay or before we have little munchkins running around (not that any of those things don’t have their own joys – they do in a different way). This is it. It’s our time to be heartbroken and independent. Our time to see the world, to date and breakup and date again and breakup again, to study random things like Archeology or Elvish or Introduction to Wine (sign me up). Basically, what I’m saying can best be summed up by some more Taylor Swift lyrics (you’re welcome): We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely in the best way – it’s miserable and magical. And it really is. Like, that is the summary of my 20’s so far. And I’ve just gotta learn to love it.
I’ve never felt my age before, but I guess what better place to start than now. So, to celebrate being alive and young, I’ve come up with a list of things I would like to do to celebrate my youth.
1) Travel: Often, with friends, alone, and to far away places.
2) Go on a hike to somewhere new.
3) See lots of movies (old ones, indie ones, scary ones). See them with friends or just alone.
4) Be okay with being alone.
5) Be okay with not being okay.
6) Eat popcorn and wine for dinner.
7) Learn how to make more than just popcorn and wine for dinner.
8) Take a Spiked Painting class.
9) Dance all the time. Everywhere. Like no one’s watching.
10) Go camping with friends (okay, maybe just glamping).
11) Be honest with people. Don’t play games.
12) Make an epic playlist and go on a road trip.
13) Make friends with new people.
14) Try a barre class or a tabata class or a yoga class.
15) Read lots and lots and lots of books.
Here’s to enjoying our youth and all the awful and extraordinary things that come with it.
If you have any things to add to my list of ways to celebrate being young, let me know! I’d love to hear.