Our society is consumed by the constricting construct of the ideal life: get a degree, start a career, make money, and climb the corporate ladder. We are taught from a young age that we pick what we want to be when we grow up, and later on we pursue said career through school and training.
But how sound is this reason?
I have been lucky enough to meet people in my life who knew at a young age what they wanted to be when they grew up. They had a burning inclination starting in their youth which gave them a clear, coherent vision for the future.
These individuals followed this drive into college, got a degree, and started doing that one thing that they had always dreamed of. A doctor, biologist, teacher.
My husband is one of these lucky few. He discovered in college what his true passion was, and has pursued it with vigor ever since. Now, his path has had twists and turns, and I anticipate many more through life, you can never really know what is coming next. But he knows, without a doubt in his mind that each day he is working towards deeper mastering his true passion for life. For a long time, I envied this.
But for the majority of us, we are unsettled when it comes to finding our one thing, or our calling as some may say. For most of us, since society says we must, we pursue a college degree that falls into one of two categories:
1. A degree in something either practical, sensical, or will pay the big bucks
2. Or something that doesn't completely bore us to death.
I personally chose the later.
Considering how much a college education costs these days, neither of these reasonings seem to stand on sound grounding. But in the hopes that we may fall into something we enjoy, we press o heroically.
There is little support or empathy for those who do not yet know what they want to be when they grow up. College is a process of growing and finding ones deeper sense of self - which can at times end in the pursuit of a new passion, or it can leave you more lost then ever, knowing all of the choices you have for the road ahead of you.
So how do we beat this restricting philosophy that society places on our souls?
I can not say that I have the answer just yet. But I have some thoughts that may shed some light on the issue, and give some individuals out there some peace, knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
For years, I myself spent a great deal of time looking for my one thing. Said one thing, led me down a path of pursing art in college, since nothing else seemed appealing at the time. So, I graduated without any inclination of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I so deeply wish now that there had been a class, helping lost souls navigate their way through their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Maybe then I would have landed on solid ground sooner.
After floating from one thing to the next after leaving college, it took quite some time for me to settle my unease with a simple thought.
Maybe it was ok if I didn't have one thing.
Maybe it was ok to live a life in constant pursuit of the things I love; chasing curiosity after curiosity, and simply seeing where I landed each time.
In my recent reading of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, she brought to light some interesting ramblings on the idea of curiosity:
It's a clue. It might seem like nothing, but it's a clue. Follow that clue. Trust it. See where curiosity will lead you next. Then follow the next clue, and the next clue, and the next. Remember it doesn't have to be a voice in the desert; it's just a harmless little scavenger hunt. Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to your passion - albeit through a strange, untraceable passageway of back alleys, underground caves, and secret doors. Or it may lead you nowhere. You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have nothing to show for it at the end - except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the humble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life.
This concept of simply following your interests, your gut, your intuition, your curiosities, to some may seem ungrounded.
But how often do you see individuals living life as they are supposed to; get a degree, get a job, make money, make more money, buy things, and live a simply empty existence, always seeking out the next thing?
Our gauge of success has been skewed by commercialism and consumerism. This default mode of living life, pulls at me from somewhere deep. It breaks my heart, my soul, to watch people living their lives this way. Beyond basic needs of providing for our families, having food on the table, and a roof over our heads, why do we trade our daily joy to ride away at a job that brings up little fulfillment, simple to have more stuff, and success?
This idea of following curiosities really resonated with how I had begun living my life. After starting and running my own successful graphic design business, something was missing. There was something else I was being pulled to do. Unsure at first, I followed my urges.
There is nothing that says this way of life will be easy. Like Liz says, you may have nothing physical to show for your efforts in the end. But wouldn't you rather have less things, and instead live a life well lived? Knowing that you followed every inclination that you ever had?
One of my personal goals, and a goal I hope to accomplish partly through this writing, is just as I say in bio:
One day, when I am at the end of my life, I hope to feel both full and empty at the same time. Full of all the experiences, knowledge, and love that I have acquired throughout my life; but empty, knowing that there is nothing left for me to do. Nothing left undone, undiscovered.
To accomplish this means breaking through the social constructs that tell us how we must live our lives, and instead beginning to in face live our lives.
I know money and security are always issues when discussing topics like this. But the reality is that we never have security. Life giveth and taketh away. We can loose our jobs, our homes, our money, at any time. And I truly believe that through pursuing your greatest desires and curiosities, that both money and security will come in time.
My hope is that one day, societal demands will break down to accommodate this more free-flowing way of living. What a beautiful world it would be if we all sought to follow our greatest curiosities and passions.
Curiosity may lead you to a great passion. Don't ignore that bring instinct of your intuition. It may just lead you to the life of your dreams.