I don’t know if you can tell, but I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I wake up in the morning and think, Wouldn’t it be great if I had any idea what I’m doing? Then I get on the bus and let the day carry me away to my unknown future.
On the bus, I read self-help books hoping that someone who has already succeeded can tell me where I am on my path to self-actualization, or even just tell me, “You’re doomed. Take up Macramé… which is also very difficult. Sorry.” I look at the people on the bus with me, and they all seem to have a purpose. For many, that purpose is just to get off of the bus. But that is a purpose nonetheless.
Maybe you are in the same situation as me. Or maybe you don’t know if you don’t know what you’re doing yet. Or maybe you do know what you’re doing and are looking for a little less certainty in your life. If any of these apply to you, you may experience any of the following symptoms.
1. You are certain that you don’t know what you’re doing.
You know a few things: The sun rises in the morning, you need money for food and shelter, and you have no idea what you’re doing.
2. Other people don’t know what you’re doing.
You may hear friends and family say things like, “I saw on Facebook that you did… a thing… How did that go?” And your response is something like, “I think it went OK?” Then you both return to eating granola bars in silence.
3. Other people seem to know what they’re doing.
Look at those people go. Looks like they’ve accomplished exactly what they set out to do, and it’s all falling into place. Look, they climbed a mountain. Look, they founded a start-up that is really starting to start up. Look, they taught dolphins how to trade in the stock market. Wow! What are you doing? Surfing the Internet in a towel. (You’re in a towel, not the Internet.)
4. A lot of people tell you what you should be doing.
This is a tricky one. Someone may come up to you and say, “Hey, you should definitely get into taxidermy.” For a moment, you may think. Yeah! That is a concrete and attainable thing that I can do. But be warned, taxidermy might not be part of what you want to do, even if you don’t know what that thing is yet.
Sometimes, it can be easier to identify what you don’t want to do. You can say, “Every day for me is a roulette of the soul, but I have a gut feeling taxidermy is not in my future.” If you keep this up, by the time you’re in your twilight years, you’ll have narrowed your life path down to roughly 8 things, a marked improvement from the infinity things you’re considering right now.
5. A handful of people know that you’re doing something.
Those people will support you without inserting their own stuff into the mix. While sometimes the risks you take make them very confused and concerned, they’ll try their best to hide it and say, “Great job! I loved the part where you smeared yourself in mustard and then gave the city councilman a hug. I think you really made that guy’s night.”
6. You may never know what you’re doing.
Here’s the thing about time: There keeps being more of it until there isn’t any more of it. (What? Yeah.) So, I guess, fill it with activities and people that keep you going. You may look back at it all someday and say, “Oh my gosh, everything I’ve done has led to this moment right now where I am at the pinnacle of my career!” Or, you may look back and say, “None of that made any sense. Who wants pizza?”
My advice—which you should take with a grain of salt, because I have no idea what I’m doing—is to do the things you’re doing anyway, if you want to do them, they cause no harm, and they obey the most current laws of physics. You should do them even if someone comes back and says, “Hey, that was stupid! Why would you ever do that?” You should do them even if that someone is your brain trying to save you from saber-toothed tigers.
That being said, good luck. You can do it—whatever “it” is.