When I Grow Up...
Today I attended an event in Toronto called the Visionary Life Retreat hosted by Kelsey Reidl. The best part of the day was getting to meet so many amazing, like-minded, inspirational individuals. We had very open conversations and got to know each other beyond the surface, even though most of us had never met before. Kelsey did a great job of facilitating the event and providing a comfortable, inclusive space.
Over lunch, we were split up into groups and given a list of questions. Each person had a chance to answer all of the questions out loud so the others could get to know them better. We went beyond “what do you do for work?” and “how do you spend your free time?”. We talked about things that most people shy away from, especially with new people. Topics such as “what are 3 things you’re grateful for right now?” and “what’s missing in your life?”. It quickly became clear that within the 5 people in my group, there was a common theme around lack of clarity or not knowing what to do with your life, in other words “not knowing what I want to be when I grow up”. But these weren’t high school or university students, we are all full-grown adults. Shouldn’t we have it all figured out by now? Spoiler alert: the answer is no.
That conversation is what inspired today’s post. If you’re feeling a little lost, unsure, or not clear on the path you want to take in life, regardless of your age, this one is for you. You might feel alone in that but let me tell you, you’re not. There are so many people out there feeling the exact same way. Our society seems to paint the picture that life goes like this: you’re born, you go to school, you make a decision at 17 or 18 years old regarding “what you want to be when you grow up”, you pursue education for that choice, you get a job, you buy a house, you have kids, you work that job for 40ish years while raising kids to follow this same path, you wait until you retire to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do, but that time is not guaranteed, you don’t know what your health will be like by that age, and eventually we all run out of time. I don’t want this to feel grim, that’s not what this post is about at all. I’m just trying to be realistic.
In this scenario, you’re expected to have your whole life figured out before you even turn 20. How can we expect kids to know what they want to do and make a decision that’s going to cost thousands of dollars when they have barely experienced life? Then those kids get older and feel bad when they realize they don’t love the choice they have made or feel like they no longer have it all figured out. My question for you is “why?”. Why do we put this pressure on ourselves and others? Why do we feel like we have to have our entire lives planned out? Why do we feel lost or like a failure if we don’t know exactly what we want to do?
I’m not here to provide answers today, I just want to provide perspective. In my opinion, trying to plan out your life and know exactly what you want to do for the next 40+ years is unrealistic. If I think back to where I was when I graduated university 4 years ago and what I thought the past few years would look like, the reality is nowhere near what I expected. Yes, I’m still in Toronto, working at the same company, and got my CPA designation, which was all planned. But there were so many things that were unplanned! I would never have expected that I would have become so passionate about health and wellness, that I would enroll in yoga teacher training, or that I would have a blog! The point is, life is better unplanned.
I’m not saying to never have a plan. It’s good to have a general idea of what you’re working towards in life, but it’s equally as important to be flexible and allow yourself to grow and change and for your plans to change along with you.
Today I witnessed others going through a similar struggle as I am, not having a perfect plan as to what they want to do with the rest of their life. I realized how much unhappiness that feeling causes. So why don’t we take the pressure off? What’s so wrong about not knowing anyways? Now that I think about it, it’s kind of wonderful because it leaves room for exploration and unexpected things to occur. It really is all about changing your perspective.
How about we find what makes us happy and just focus on doing more of that? We don’t need to have everything mapped out. I truly believe that if you find what makes you happy and focus on doing more of it, everything else will fall into place, and you’ll be a whole lot happier along the way.
As a quote from my favourite show (One Tree Hill) says: “The road is long and, in the end, the journey is the destination.”
Enjoy the ride,