You cannot fail a test you are not taking
One of the things I find most difficult about society, and perhaps the world in general, is the expectation that we should all have a plan. I do not know if this is an actual thing or whether it is just something perceived to be there by those of us who feel watched. There just seems to be this overwhelming shadow hanging up there that says “what are you doing with your life?”
The reason I find this difficult is because, amongst other things, I cannot answer that question with any semblance of clarity or confidence. I end up feeling insecure and indignant that anyone should have the right to put me that position. Having that feeling that you cannot live up to the expectations of society can leave you feeling more than a little bleak. Like you’re failing a test you didn’t even know you were taking.
I am prone to overthinking things. On occasion my thoughts have been known to wander down paths I’d really rather not explore. So you can imagine how feeling like a failed member of the world could affect me and the hundreds and thousands and millions of other people in that same position.
Stop. Don’t panic. There is, somewhere, a light to be found. Sit down, put your feet up and take a sip of tea. I’ll help you find it. You see, I then get to thinking “why?” Perhaps it’s the last residual philosophical brain cells trying to cling onto their place in my head, but I find myself questioning this expectation. The general consensus “you should have an idea, a plan, a goal” is, as far as I’m concerned, a big pile horse poop. In reply I scream “WHY??” Go on, tell me why.
No one can, because there really is no answer to that question. There is no reason in this entire universe that I should have my shit together. None of us really have any real cause to.
“But what are you going to do with your life?”
Well, my dears, I think the best thing any of us can ever do with our lives is to simply live them. That means every day. I do not want to waste today or tomorrow by worrying about whether I am achieving something that will make a difference in ten years. Because over the next 3652 days(there will be 2 leap years in the next 10) I will make a lot of decisions and do a lot of things. I cannot know what impact they will have down the line so perhaps my time would be better spent living the days that are rather than fretting over those which are not yet.
Life is not a test.
There, I found your light. Here, grab it and hold it close. Let it soak in through your skin like the sunlight. It will nurture you from the inside and remind you in the toughest and most terrible of times that you are doing okay. You cannot fail because there is no grade boundary, no mark scheme. No test at all.
I am 26 years old. I have changed my mind countless times and am likely to do so countless more. I have worked a number of different jobs and experienced a variety of industries and environments. I have lost family, friends and pets. I have fallen in love and let it go. I have been rejected, disliked and bullied, accepted, praised, loved and respected. Three weeks ago I got a puppy of my own and I have learnt a new selfless unconditional all-encompassing love I had not experienced before. I do not know what I am doing with my life. I do not know what I am going to do with it either. Some days I am a cluttered clumsy mess of a woman. I must definitely do not have my shit together. But I am not failing.
I was once tricked into the mindset that it was very important to study hard and get a good job to earn good money and eat well and have a family and a happy life. I say tricked, but no one duped me. It was just the way my brain processed things at the time I was told to start making decisions about “my future”. I am glad, in a way, that I then went on to study philosophy as it reminded me to ask that all important “why?” It helped me realise that I did not want those things. At least, not for those reasons. I wanted to study because I love to learn new and interesting things. I want to work because I like to be doing but I wanted to find work I enjoyed whether or not it paid a lot.
And so although I question myself on a daily basis as to what I am doing with my life, I do not mind so much that I cannot answer. I find it harder when other people ask as that societal pressure rears its head, real or not. The expectations come crashing through the door uninvited and shake my confidence again. I hope that one day I have a hazy silhouette of an idea of what I’m doing but if I never do then I can at least say I never did in the first place.
I may never manage to get my ducks in a row, so to speak, but maybe my ducks are not meant to line up so neatly. Or maybe the puppy ran through and scattered them again…