So you’re 23 and you have no idea what comes next.
First of all, congratulations. You’re ahead of the game.
Do you know how long most people wait to realize that they’re lost? Do you know many people never do? Do you understand how many people go through their entire lives aimlessly floundering; only to realize at the very end of it that none of what they did was what they wanted? It’s a lot more than you’d think. And most of those people thought they had it all figured out at twenty-three.
After all, it’s not so hard to be found when you are twenty-three years old. There are infinite hoards of people who will tell you what to do and where to go. There are endless opportunities for you to make money and prosper. All you have to do is let go of what you want for yourself. You just have to subscribe to living someone else’s dream.
If you are lost at twenty-three, you are exactly where you need to be right now. I know that it is not where you would like – stuck in the middle of uncertainty and failure and your own inconsistent desires. I know it’s not the place you thought you’d be when you screamed, “Cheers!” on your 20th birthday in anticipation of the next exciting decade. I know that you would rather be just about anywhere but here except you can’t figure out where to go and it is driving you slowly up the wall. I know what it’s like to be twenty-three and lost. I know that it’s the worst place on earth.
But the fact that you are lost right now tells you something. It tells you that your life as it has been is not your life as it will be. It tells you that you’re not the kind of person who settles for okay or sort of good enough. The fact that you are lost tells you that you would rather be living in the middle of uncertainty than dead-set on something that makes you consistently miserable. And I’m not sure if you realize how rare that really is. How few people still give a shit about doing something meaningful with their lives. How many more people we need who are just like you – lost and reeling, yet still pushing themselves to do better.
You are lost because you care. You’re lost because you’re passionate. You’re lost because you know that there is more inside of you than what you’re currently offering the world and that is a brilliant thing to know.
At 23, JK Rowling was broke. Tina Fey was working at the Y.M.C.A. Oprah had just gotten fired from her first job as a TV reporter and Walt Disney had declared bankruptcy. None of these wildly successful individuals could have predicted what was in store for them next but the one thing they all had in common was that they knew that there was more to them than what they were doing at the time. And that’s what you have in common with them, too. You know that there’s a bigger, better version of yourself to bring to life. You just haven’t gotten there yet.
So let’s look at where to go from here. If your life is lying splintered on the floor, which pieces do you want to pick up and keep? Which do you leave? What do you choose not to re-create now that you’re given the chance to start over? Because that is exactly the chance that you have at twenty-three. You get to strip your life down to its bare bones and build the whole thing back up from scratch. It’s not the easiest thing to do. But it’s the best thing. The bravest thing. The most rewarding thing and the kind of thing you only get the opportunity to do through being lost.
So right now, let yourself be a little bit lost. Because you don’t get found by staying comfortable. You don’t get found by running away. You don’t get found by fighting your deepest impulses and you definitely don’t get found by hiding out. You get found by doing exactly what it is that you are doing right now – which is delving right into the heart of your life and fighting like hell for what matters.
If you’re never lost you never get found.
And you’re the kind of person worth searching for.