Everyone, when they are a child, is asked at some point, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
When you’re a kid it seems normal. The world in your eyes is structured and rigidly defined, and it’s part of the culture you grow up in that when you are young, you find out what you’re good at, and that becomes what you pursue in life. That becomes your default answer to that omnipresent question. Then, when you’re older, you pick a career path to follow, you decide it’s what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, and before you know it you’re married with 2.5 kids and a dog and you’re working your dream job.
They say you need a purpose, a meaning, a passion that drives your entire life.
And sure, it’s great for those kids who know from the time they’re five that they want to be a lawyer. It makes sense for those kids with that natural athletic ability and sportsy prowess to go on to become Olympic stars. It’s alright for those kids who are born with that aggressive ambition to help the world by becoming social workers who travel to Africa to feed starving orphans and also run a haven for abandoned puppies in their spare time.
But what if you have no inner drive? No burning desire to save the world? No inherent gift that takes you far?
For a long time I’ve been scared to look too far inward, to investigate too deeply into my own soul and nature, because I have this constant, nagging fear: What if there’s nothing there?
What if I don’t have that motivation to pursue something great? What if I just don’t know who I am or what I stand for or what I really want in life? The pressure is unparalleled.
Identity is a difficult thing to find and maintain. For some, it comes very easily, but I think most of us struggle. How are you supposed to answer a question like that? What do I want to be when I grow up? What if you still don’t know by the time you’ve “grown up”? What if your biggest aspiration right now is to get to Walmart before it closes so you can buy the newest flavor of Cheez-Its you saw advertised on TV?
I am no life guru. And the answer I’ve been exploring is in no way perfected. But the mindset I’ve come across most recently is, paradoxically, to find identity within having none.
Maybe you have a lot of small interests, spread out into varying categories, but no single, hungry, all-encompassing passion. Maybe you have no idea what you like and you’re not really sure that you like anything enough to pursue it. Maybe you’re one of the millions of not-so-special people out there with no grand, outstanding talents.
You can just wander. Seriously.
You’re allowed to just wander around until you stumble into something worthwhile. I mean, why not? There is no right way to do this. And I don’t mean quit your job to become some hippie vagabond or move back in with your parents and play videogames all day. You are still in charge of your life, and you definitely still have to try somewhat.
Just don’t let yourself become complacent. As long as you are still pursuing good experiences and occasionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it’s okay to be a wanderer. Encourage self-growth, but relieve yourself of the burden to find your destined path. Take opportunities as they appear, and be open to whatever comes your way. That in and of itself may be your destined path.
And even if you wander all your life, you might never find that something. You may move from place to place, from job to job, never feeling like “Hey, this is it!”. And I think that’s okay. Because not everyone has an “it”. Not everyone has a place where they feel completely satisfied because they finally discovered their inner passion or whatever. As long as you’re satisfied with where you are in life and the kind of person you are becoming, I think that’s absolutely fine.