Until very recently, I often felt like I was doing life wrong. Like I was missing something. I always felt lost, like I should have had a plan. Like I should have known where I was heading next– and like everyone else had it figured out.
Everyone around me seemed so sure. Effortlessly sure. I wondered:
- But how do you know that you want to do xyz for a job?
- How do you manage everything so perfectly when I have trouble making a doctor’s appointment and folding my clothes?
- Do you ever actually get stressed out?
I wondered why other people’s lives seemed so uncomplicated and easy, meanwhile I just wasted two hours stalking people on Facebook who I haven’t spoken to in seven years to put off analyzing my entire existence.
First, it does you no good to compare your life to someone else’s. It just doesn’t. So stop.
Nobody has it all figured out, so stop comparing yourself to Taylor Smith from middle school– she is dealing with some degree of uncertainty too. Everyone (yes everyone) gets to a point in their life where they are unsure of their next step. And there is not always an easy answer. There is rarely an easy answer.
We get stuck, we judge ourselves for it, and we get deeper into the goo of being stuck. It’s time to dig yourself out.
What should you do when you don’t know what to do next?
Here’s what I have found through my entire life of not having my shit together: It doesn’t matter what you do next, as long as you do something.
Whatever mistakes you make next are experiences you will learn from and grow from. The momentum you pick up from whatever you decide to do will often carry you into the next thing, even though you will probably have no clue what that is yet. One of my favorite bloggers, Mark Manson, wrote a thing about momentum and it’s spot-on.
Six months ago, I wasn’t bringing in enough money to support myself and I didn’t want to take on more freelance jobs. So I went and got a restaurant job. I wasn’t really sure if that was going to be a good decision, but it ended up being the best decision I have made for myself in years. And if I didn’t like it on day 2, or day 25, or day 50, I could have quit and tried something else.
One of my readers is halfway through her university degree. She is taking a semester off because she isn’t sure she wants to continue with her degree, and school is expensive. I think that’s fucking brave and awesome, and I hope she explores the things she truly loves. We need to forgive ourselves for changing, and celebrate those changes instead of holding ourselves to an identity that is no longer true.
A friend of mine just lost his job. He texted me yesterday and said he’s thinking of being a ski instructor for a season because he’s never done that before and it seems fun. My response to that is a loud heck yes. What is the worst that could happen?
Take the pressure off yourself that this next step has to be perfect. Life is miles away from our ideas of perfect, and no one decision you make will determine the rest of your life. Being able to backtrack is a gift– one that we are free to use whenever we choose to.
So when you don’t know what to do next, know that you’re not the first person to feel that way, and that you are certainly not alone. When you don’t know what to do, just do something.
You will figure the rest out.