You Don’t Know What You Want

Young Adult
Young Adult

When you were a kid you imagined that in the future, every day would feel like a holiday. You’d finally be able to eat McDonald’s for breakfast and have a pet ferret or two if you wanted. There’d be no more getting in the car with your family and whispering about Grandma’s neighbor so-and-so who played the piano and was dying, no more arguing with your sister about what movie you watched. There was so much hope when you thought about what could be, when you still believed you could do anything.

Some nights you’d lay awake in the dark imagining your future — you saw yourself swimming leagues underwater with schools of colorful fish, relaxing poolside in the courtyard of an ancient manor, the veins of a city from the picture window of your high-rise office. Your books were more than words on a page, your movies more than manufactured scenes pieced together from pixels. It was the closest to an altered reality you could get, and you relished it. Every moment felt infinite and each detail, magnified. You wondered what it’d feel like to feel important, impactful somehow, and what it’d be like to fall in love. Your heart nearly burst at the idea.

But you got older and you forgot how to be excited. You took a job you didn’t want to buy a car you didn’t need. You saved some money because someone said you might need it. Some days, sitting under a fluorescent light, doing some repetitive task, you wonder the value of your time. You dated or married for how someone appeared rather than how they made you feel. You fell into routine and you forgot what you wanted. Your time is sitting in a bank and it’s cold and useless once it has passed. Your dreams wore away until all that was left was a light scar as a reminder of who you were. The rest of the world told you it wasn’t worth it, that nothing mattered, and you believed them. You were lied to.

What are you being paid for your freedom? Is it worth it? Does it even make a difference?

Go ask someone what he would do, money no option, if he could do anything. Then ask yourself. Do you know? If not, stop what you’re doing, and figure it out. Stop reading this. Knowing what you want is the first step in changing your entire life. Once you have an idea, question it. So you want to be an actress? Why? For the money and fame? Why would that improve your quality of life? Is it your ego or your soul talking? What is important to you?

If that’s too daunting (which is possible considering plenty people find it very difficult to be honest with themselves), make a list of ten small things you can do for yourself in the near future to improve your life. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to buy something to make your wasted time feel worth it, and it doesn’t mean going out and distracting yourself with something like booze or drugs as a reward for trying. It means making a step in the right direction to get on the path of whatever your highest values are. You want to live for a year in Tokyo? Go buy a book on the Japanese language and sit down, pal. Don’t expect someone to just hand you a plane ticket because you’ve worked hard at your job doing inventory at the sales firm.

You still have that small person inside you who dreams, who feels excitement about the potential of a new day. She hasn’t hardened from years of negative people around you. The only difference between when you were a kid and now is that the future doesn’t have to be years away.

Wake up. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ashlee Schultz believes in the power of a positive mindset. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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