I distinctly remember being 15 and sitting in an assembly with my classmates, being addressed by the deputy principal. We were told that it was that exciting time in our high school lives when we got to choose our subjects for our senior years.
The joyous moment that I finally got to drop science and PE was slightly disrupted by the immediate pressure that the subjects we chose would ultimately decide the course we got into at university and then the resulting career that would come with that.
Skip forward eight years and I finished high school, graduated university, and landed my first job in ‘the industry’. My dream job. I didn’t get there by luck, I worked my butt off for those eight years and I had that job in mind. And I have very vivid memories how I felt – I was underwhelmed, unhappy, and wondering how I got it so wrong.
Fast forward another four years to when I moved to Sydney to continue ‘chasing the dream’. The career I’d been working towards for 12 whole years. There were a few successes, a LOT of great moments, many, many wonderful friendships, and a pretty interesting life plus finally seeing some headway towards the job I really wanted.
But, still, that joyous moment of ‘you’ve arrived’ was yet to come.
The celebration that should have accompanied the most recent success never happened.
That feeling of longing, of undiscovered passion, of ‘something’s missing’ still firmly took up residence in my heart.
Because sometimes, in life, we can’t help but chase dreams that allude us.
:: How can a 15 year old predict what someone twice their age will want to do?
:: Why are we pressured to make decisions so young under the misconception that we will be deciding the rest of our lives?
:: And why, when we realise that our idea of ‘living the dream’ is no longer right, do we try to force something that is no longer us?
Because no one really ever told us that it was okay not to.
[divider style=’double’ mb=’20’]
In school we are taught that failure is unacceptable. That thinking differently is not how you get an A (you need all the research to back it up), and that there is an order to the way life carries out, and we would be fools to think otherwise.
But then you get to a certain age and you realise that is absolutely ridiculous.
You might be 16, you might be 27, you might be 48 – it doesn’t matter, really – and you just want to tear up the plans and start all over again.
It might happen to you every six months.
It may happen in a big and dramatic way, bringing down everything around you.
I want to tell you that it is okay.
I was the kid who worked her butt off to get the best results at school. Who set goals for jobs and got them. Who uprooted her life to move to where the work was.
And I was not happy.
In fact, I was miserable, for a long time.
Even though I knew it was easy to quit and start on a different path, I think, deep down, I didn’t realise it was something *I* could do. I think a little part of me thought I really had to stick with what my 15-year-old self decided for me. As though that was my pre-determined fate.
[divider style=’double’ mb=’20’]
You might think I’m crazy for somewhere, deep down, thinking that and admitting it. In writing. On the Internet. For anyone to see and to be recorded in the forever of the ether.
Or you might be feeling a little bit the same.
What does 15-year-old or 18-year-old or 25-year-old us know about future us?
Not that much.
We have to write the story as we go. We have to take the road that works for us at the time.
And we have to be okay with that.
Because nothing is certain and experience is going to encourage us to make new and different choices that we may have never thought we’d make.
And that is the beauty of life and of being human. We have the ability to do this whenever the mood strikes.
I can tell you with 100 percent honesty and authenticity that deciding to write a new story was the best decision I ever made.
So, tell me, is your past dictating your present? Are your dreams in need of revisiting? Or have you forgotten altogether what it is you once wanted?
Let me know in the comments if you’ve been through this (or are going through it right now)