Nobody Knows What They’re Doing And Neither Do You
When you were in grade school, you dreamt of being in middle school. When you were in middle school, you dreamt of being in high school. After high school, you figured you’d go to college, get your degree, find a partner, settle down, and have it all figured out.
Yet something strange happens as you get older. People don’t make these dramatic leaps in maturity with age. You never quite feel like a full adult, nor do your peers seem to have their shit all that together either.
Everyone is flailing and floundering around, filled with doubt and insecurity about their future. We continue to flail and flounder until we die. It never ends.
As far as the “rules of society” are concerned, have you ever thought to ask yourself who the hell made these rules? More importantly, why did they make them? The rules were created to keep you distracted, worried, and complacent.
Better they have you live in existential angst over meaningless status markers than really figure out what to do with your life.
Better they have you keeping up with the Joneses than trying to figure out what really matters to you.
The pressure to get your life figured out has nothing to do with the type of figuring your life out you really care about – self-actualization, purpose, meaning. No, this type of societal pressure leads you toward a sole end.
There’s just this long list of things you’re supposed to do by default. And if you don’t do them, you face societal rejection.
You’re actually not worried about quitting your job and becoming an artist because of the financial aspect of it. Well, you are, but you actually fear what people will think of you for making that move.
You’re not worried about the uncertainty and risk that comes with living a life that doesn’t fit everyone else’s narrative. Well, you are, but you’re actually worried about not fitting in.
And the not fitting in part is actually much harder to deal with than the effort it takes to fulfill a dream. You’re a social animal who wants acceptance. And not ticking off every single box of the “figured life out” checklist means you don’t get that acceptance.
So what do you do?
DON’T FIGURE YOUR LIFE OUT. DO THE OPPOSITE.
Reinvent yourself. To do this, you must kill your old self. In a way, change is like dying in that there’s a real grieving process involved in starting over.
People don’t fear change itself. People fear loss. More than anything, people fear losing their identity and sense of self, regardless of how messy it is. Add potentially negative social consequences to this, and no wonder “chasing dreams” is so rare.
When you just go for it and walk a path with no trail or play a game with no rule book, you find yourself becoming more ignorant over time. As you try to gain a real understanding of how the world works, you don’t get more certainty and answers, you get more uncertainty and questions. The more you learn, the less you feel you actually know. Over time, you realize that you don’t even want the answers anymore. You just want to keep asking great questions, because the process of crafting a well-articulated question is the entire point. You don’t feel directionless. Instead, you just feel unencumbered. You’re under less pressure to have an answer for everything.
Speaking of the answer to “what I’m going to do with my life?”
I don’t know. We don’t all know. We just have to go with the flow and stop stressing out about everything.