Ever wonder why you can’t seem to be happy doing what you’re doing? That job just isn’t what you thought it’d be. That new city isn’t as great as it seemed to be. Sure you make good money, or have a nice place, or do cool things, but something is still missing. Is there something wrong with you? Or are you just meant for something more?
Where It Starts
One of my good friends was recently explaining to me how he started this new job, but it just isn’t what he had hoped it would be. He came in all excited and ready to do good work, but was almost immediately shut down and held back from the greater potential of what he could be doing there. Since then, he’s run into wall after wall. While he chooses to push onward to add value to his resume and look ahead to next steps, I wonder if he thinks maybe he’s just meant to be doing something more than this.
When he talks to me about his situation, I hear a hint of desperation in his voice that suggests he longs to do something with his life where his passion and skill set meet to create something that impacts his life, those around him, and the greater world. I don’t know if he realizes it or not, but I see it.
I see it because I feel the same way. There’s a possibility I’m biased and hearing/seeing what I want to because I’m projecting my true feelings about my life onto others. Or maybe its all of us! Maybe we all kind of feel this way to some extent. Our grandparents never had the luxury of pursuing these notions, and our parents never had the opportunity.
Generations before us were forced to conform to a structure, a mold. They were taught, either by culture or economic circumstances, that they had to have a career job. They needed to work their way up, and hopefully the benefits of retirement will be waiting for them in the end thirty years later.
But we don’t get that option. Our options are: work your way up the food chain of one company that won’t appreciate you in the end, or hope that retirement will be waiting when it most likely won’t be.
It forces us to rethink what we do with our life.
I feel like I’m kind of in between generations. I’m not quite the generation before me, but I’m also not quite a millennial. Though I suppose anyone older than me would say this post is about as millennial as it gets. But I don’t fully identify with the millennial mindset. But I do certainly identify with this idea that I don’t want to be tied down to something I don’t love. I don’t want to have to do something just because I need to live off the earnings of that thing. The reality is that we have to have consistent income, or live week to week, paycheck to paycheck, in constant stress and wondering if we will have money for food next month. I made the choice to have consistent income. But since making that decision I’ve consistently wondered if it was the right one. I know it’s the “grown up” thing to do. I know it was the “right” choice generally. But I can’t shake this feeling that something isn’t right. I just don’t know what it is.
Where I really identify with millennials is the dream. Millennials love to dream. They just also tend to be somewhat unrealistic in the way they try to achieve said dream. There are some stereo types handed down by our baby boomer predecessors that aren’t completely off. Millennials do often act as though the dream should be handed to them. I think baby boomers just forget where that entitlement came from. I think they forget who raised millennials. It was the millennial’s capitalist conservative upper middle class white parents that showed them that entitlement is real. But that’s for another conversation.
None the less, entitlement is alive in all Americans. So let’s stop pretending it’s only some of us. We all need to deal with that.
The difference is that I don’t think anything should be handed to me. I just don’t really know how to achieve the dream. These days I’m not even fully sure what “the dream” really is for me. What does it look like? What would I be doing?
All I know is that what I’m doing isn’t it.
I don’t think I’m a great enough songwriter to be a songwriter. I don’t know if I’m a great enough writer to be a writer. I’m not sure if I’m a great enough musician to be a pro musician. But do you have to be great to be a pro? I turn on the radio and consider otherwise.
Maybe the dream is about what makes you come alive. Maybe the dream is the life that waits just beyond that step of faith. We can’t see it, but we find it when we choose to go after it against all odds. Or maybe I’m crazy. But I look at every person who ever took that chance and I consider otherwise.
What Are You Going To Do?
It’s not enough to feel like the world isn’t right. It’s not enough to feel like something is missing, or that I’m not doing what I should be doing. The only thing that matters in the end is what you do. A plan. A goal. An end game. You need to know what to do today, before you can do what you want to do. This is where I am now.
I’m trying to make an effort to spend time every day doing what I love and what I want to do. But I’m making sure I’m also trying to set goals that are monetarily motivated. Why? Because time is valuable, and I don’t want to continue giving of my time to something I don’t care about when I could be giving it to something I do. But it always seems to be the things we care about most that don’t naturally make us money. Maybe it was meant to be that way. Maybe we were always meant to have to fight for the things that make us come to life. It definitely means more to us when we’ve had to pour blood, sweat, and tears into it. We protect it. We fight for it. We live and die by that thing. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
So it really comes down to the question of how can one do for a living what makes them want to get up in the morning? It’s always going to be a longshot, so you might as well go for it anyway, right? I’ve never known any other way. I’ve gone through phases in life of trying to “come back to the real world” and realize that maybe I’ll never do what I’ve always thought I was meant to do. But I always go back. I can’t seem to let it go.
I’m going to be 30 this November. I really want to have something incredible, unthinkable, and unimaginable to show for the next 30 years that seemed unbelievably difficult and impossible to accomplish. I want my story to be one of perseverance, bravery, and faithfulness to my passions, my character, and my dream. I think about it every single day. I hope you do too.