What Comes Next?
My ramblings of coming to terms with fears, expectations, and observations on why choosing to do one thing in life is limiting.
Why are some of us scared to start to explore and do what we truly want to do? It can be such a hard decision, and in a way can turn into an existential crisis. For me, it’s been an ongoing battle of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations, pressure from upholding societal norms, and my assumptions as to what or even who I should be.
It’s exhausting, and frankly to say the least, quite intimidating.
For context, my family and I moved to Detroit from Mexico when I was 7 years old. Both my parents graduated from college and had “well-respected” jobs. From what I remember, we lived comfortably, but felt it wasn’t enough for my sister and me, so they decided to move. I grew up with the expectation I would go to college, graduate, and get some type of high-status type occupation — at least that’s what I got from my parents raising me. It was never really said, but implied. The thing that sucked the most is that my parents never really nudged me (or knew how) to get out there and try everything I could to find out the things I wanted to do. Could it have been because they weren’t in their home country or just too busy and worried about attaining “The American Deam”? Not sure, but the pressure to succeed in the US was on, and weighed heavily on my older sister and I as we were growing up. We couldn’t let our parent’s decision be in vain.
I never graduated college.
My sister graduated, and me, well, let’s just say I decided college wasn’t my thing. (I chose to live the college experience while not being in college, sigh).
After four stints between community colleges and state universities, I dropped out each time, defeated, ashamed and unsure of what path to take next and unsure of who or what I wanted to be.
So this takes me to explore a question or better yet, an observation of mine; why is it that we have been raised to only pick one thing to aspire to? Sure, it’s great to master something, but what happens after you master that one thing? Keep doing it till you hate it and then you die?!? Ridiculous…
If you’re happy to only want to do one thing, that’s cool! Keep at it, friend!
I think this pressure put on you to decide ONLY ONE THING to do for the rest of your life doesn’t really help. From what I remember, it was pretty scary to try and consider, let alone decide in high school (even scarier still if you’re already in college and thinking WTF every chance you get) while you still have no clue how the real-world functions or who the hell you even are. Strengths, weaknesses? I had no clue! I just knew I was relatively smart (he, he), funny, and obeyed instructions well.
I only knew what my parents had taught me, and could draw from very few personal “real world” experiences. (Not to dismiss anyone that’s gone through hardcore life stuff). But in truth, I didn’t know who I was, I just knew the expectation of others.
Maybe that’s why we see so many people working outside of their related field of study quite often and miserable in their current job? Does it make sense that your 18-year old-ish self has the capacity or even know themselves enough to make such a decision? Perhaps, some. But in my experience, most of us have no fucking clue (guilty of this till this day) on what or who we want to be. The anxiety, hopelessness, and almost paralysis this causes sucks major butt.
This “type” of paralysis happened to me, coupled with a lack of self-confidence, being a product of my parents’ emotional baggage (more on that later), and lack of understanding of what I — not my parents, society, or world — truly aspired for.
So that goes back to my question, why do we only have to pick one thing!?!
In my short 30 years (lol)and after several life experiences, I’ve come to learn that mastering several things throughout your life at a time, should be what we all should aspire to do. And it’s ok to not know which “thing” to try first. Plus, learning never stops, so why should you stop and limit yourself to be just one thing?
I say, Diversify yourself.
For example, you went to college for nursing and worked as one for the past 10 years? Sweet! Or now you’re interested in learning how to become a graphic designer?
Salsa Dancer? Doctor? Whatever is it that you would like to do?!
Why limit yourself?
The key is to just start. Simple, right? Freaking hard to do — but not impossible!
It’s always refreshing to know or see someone take action and do what they’ve always wanted to do. But some of us can’t find the way to take the first step. Either we are so emotionally vested into the amount of time we’ve put into learning and mastering something already, or we are too scared we will fail. Ultimately making up the excuse that it’s too hard to start. Bullshit!
The fear of failing is actually what’s stopped me from attempting or following through in doing a lot of things I was interested in, as well as not opening myself to dedicate the time to just do it. I’ve been stuck in this cycle of:
“I can only learn and be good at one thing, not sure what that thing is, but I’ll figure it out as I go, but I have to be really good at it for the rest of my life”.
I’ve been paralyzed in the pressure of picking that one thing, unable to decide, and therefore haven’t accomplished much of what I’ve always wanted to do.
So that’s why I’m writing.
I’m tired of feeling like something’s missing and of having this sense of not pursuing what I truly want to do. Life’s too short to let it pass by and limit myself to my comfort zones and fears.
I’ve realized I’ve always loved to write and after some soul searching and some emotional breakdowns with my boyfriend, I’ve decided to take the time, and put the effort into writing and just start. Maybe this isn’t what I will do for the rest of my life, but what do I have to lose? Nothing.
If anything I gain much as I have started to explore more of myself, who I am, and be comfortable in knowing who I want to be and where I want to go next.