Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life? Try Everything
Almost any skill or interest can be part of your career in some way.
What did you used to want to be when you grew up?
In elementary school, my answer was always “artist.” In middle school, it was “singer.” High school? “Writer.” College: registered dietitian nutritionist/novelist/journalist/graphic designer/semi-part-time vocalist. If you go by my transcripts and CV, anyway.
As we grow, so do our interests. Which isn’t a problem until someone asks us to declare a career path and begin following it.
How do you … choose?
How do you know what you’re supposed to do with your time? Your energy? Your life?
We all want to make a difference. And we want that difference to somehow fulfill something else within us. We want our hobby or our job to make us feel good from the inside out — even if we’re the only ones paying attention to what we’re doing.
That means that whatever it is, we have to like it, at least a little bit. And we have to be good at it — or getting better. And we have to have some kind of support system in case impostor syndrome hits and we start to doubt every attempt we’ve ever made at Doing Something That Matters.
How do you find the “thing” that fulfills most if not all of these requirements? That connects you with people, allows plenty of practice time, and makes you happy even on the days it’s not very fun?
You try a bunch of stuff. Not all at once. But over a span of years.
No one knows how they want to spend their time. Not until they’ve first experienced and evaluated their options, anyway.
Some people don’t even think certain options are available to them until they explore their interests and develop their skills further. I never thought anyone would let me write about Star Wars on their behalf, let alone pay me to do it. I was wrong.
No one told me you could get a degree in making complicated science concepts easier to understand for the general public. I figured that out on my own.
I used to think that every project I started eventually had to turn into another side hustle. Until I tried to do that one too many times and realized sometimes it’s OK to just do some things for fun.
For years, I struggled to decide what I wanted to do because I thought having too many options was a disadvantage.
I wanted to do everything. So that’s what I tried to do.
Obviously, you can’t do it all. But you can learn a lot if you try it all.
Along the way, I learned that I suck at video games, am not a strong public speaker, write good interview questions but don’t interview well, and love photography even though I’m not very good at it yet.
I never would have made any of these discoveries if I didn’t try all of those things. I probably didn’t have to try everything all at once. But I got from point A to point B in time.
Eventually I figured out that I’m not meant to do just one thing. But you might find the one hobby or career or random skill that makes you happy, makes a living, or both. If you’re willing to experiment until you find it, that is.
Failure might either mean you have room to grow or something just isn’t your “thing.” That’s OK. That’s how we learn. That’s how we figure out the one place — or multiple places — we belong.
Try everything. Chances are, your something(s) will capture your heart and never let it go.