How To Distinguish What You Really Want From What You Think You Want

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When I was little, I used to write scripts in notebooks so I decided this meant I wanted to write scripts for a living. I took television production class in high school and when I applied to college, I only considered colleges that had majors dedicated to television production. I did not consider anything else because I knew it was what I wanted to do.

With sex, I wanted my first time to be special. I didn’t want to lose my virginity to some random in his twin bed with his roommate sleeping in the next bed over. I wanted to lose it to someone special — and I knew that meant waiting for that special person to come along. I knew it was what I wanted, so I made it happen (despite the numerous amount of people who laughed when I told them I was a virgin back then — it was my go-to ‘Never Have I Ever’ in Kings — and if you didn’t believe me then, now you know it was true).

With relationships, I told myself I wanted to be in a serious one in my twenties. I wanted to be engaged in my mid to late twenties. And I wanted to have at least one child by the time I turned 30.

Oh, how this has changed.

Lately, I feel like I don’t know what I want anymore. I’m now 25 years old, feeling like I’m still 21, not exactly sure about the life I set up for myself.

I didn’t think the whole ‘quarter life crisis’ thing would get to me. I have a Fall birthday and am one of the younger ones amongst my friends, so I figured turning 25 wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But the minute I typed it in on the treadmill (gotta get the correct calorie reading), I realized I wasn’t in my early 20s anymore. I felt closer in age to people who were 30. For some reason, when I was 24 I felt significantly younger and much more immature than people who were 30, but now that’s not the case. There is a huge difference between being 24 and being 25. I’m not going to sit here and complain that I’m now an old person (because I’m not), but I will say the pressure is on.

The pressure of still being young while also thinking about settling down as an adult in a few short years. The pressure of going out constantly and spending money on booze and food, while still saving money from tiny paychecks for the future. The pressure of knowing that the career direction I’m in is the right one, because if I don’t change it now, every day could be another one ‘wasted.’ The pressure of knowing that the person I’m with is also the right one, because I don’t want to figure out that he’s not one day and have it be too late. The pressure to have my life together and figured out in a quick five years because someone decided to deem the age of 30 as the end of youth-in-the-city and the start of suburban-life-with-kids. Now, I know that’s not totally the case. Not many people are having kids at 30 anymore, if at all, but there’s still that rush. That pressure to get your shit together so it maybe could happen.

I didn’t think this pressure would get to me because I am headed in the right direction for what I want to be doing as a career. I have been in a relationship for four and a half years. I have an apartment and all the furniture I bought myself (my credit card doesn’t seem to see this as an accomplishment, but I do, so whatever). And I have a ton of friends who I still go out with on a regular basis.

But the pressure fell on me like a ton of bricks. And it’s totally messing with the life I had planned for myself.

I have been in the “real world” for over 3 years now and I have a job related to what I got my degree in. Success one would say — and success it is. But now, I’m not so sure if this is the right direction for me. For years, I thought I was this special person who unlike everyone else knew what she wanted. While everyone else was changing majors in college and looking into different careers they were interested in, I knew exactly what my end goal was. And I knew what I had to do to get there. I wasn’t confused like everyone else, and that made me happy.

But now, I am confused. Things didn’t pan out as I thought they would in the 3 and a half years I’ve spent out of college — obstacles got in the way of dreams, new interests were sparked, and dreams were therefore questioned the process.

With each job, I knew it was a step in a direction to the NEXT one… and the next one would hopefully be closer to my end goal. But my end goal kept changing. I kept trying to tell myself I liked certain aspects of jobs and could maybe do that forever. But none of it truly excited me, or made me happy. Not to mention, the new interests I developed along the way made me question what my end goal even was in the first place.

I started a blog for fun a couple months after graduating college and slowly learned that I loved writing articles, creating content, and sharing this content on social media. As much as I would love to pursue the blog full-time, I have two things stopping me — 1. The fact I need a full-time job with steady paychecks and benefits (you know, those… we all can’t be Hannah Horvath) and 2. The fact I went to college and got a degree in television production. The fact I did so because I have wanted to work in television since I was a little girl. If I stopped to blog full time for now, wouldn’t that put on a halt on my pursuit of becoming a television writer? Or am I so far from that career path anyway because I didn’t move out to LA or NYC to do what I wanted after I graduated college?

I, like many other people, put way too much pressure on myself. Sure I’m 25, but THAT’S STILL REALLY YOUNG. So many years left to DO BIG THINGS. Why do I feel like I have to do it all and figure everything out NOW? Is it because I’m in competition with everyone’s’ job titles on LinkedIn? Is it because I have a strong desire to get on Forbes 30 Under 30? Is it because I want to outdo Lena Dunham with my own TV show about our generation based on my blog? (the answer to that is yes… and I’m working on it… sorry girl, still love you). Is it because I’m not doing what I want to be doing and that pisses me off because I feel stuck? I mean, what 25 year old is living out their ultimate dream right now, though?

I have to come to the realization that I might never be satisfied. And that’s not a bad thing — Ambitious people are basically never satisfied. They’re always wanting more.

So what do I want to do with my life? Right now, I can tell you about 10 different things I’m interested in doing. And that makes me feel like one of those people in college who wasn’t sure what they wanted to be when they grew up. One of those people I laughed at because ‘I was so sure of myself.’ But now I realize I am still pretty sure of myself. I want to be successful doing something I love. Basically, I’m just ambitious as fuck. And I think that’s okay. Stressful – because I’m always putting way too much pressure on myself and often want to cry – but okay.

These couple years out of college, I’ve been trying to go after certain job titles — forgetting to care about what I actually love doing… what I’m talented at and have a passion for. I’ve convinced myself these titles are what I want, but now I realize these titles aren’t making me happy. I want to do what I love. So how do you differ knowing what you want from convincing yourself something is what you want? You have to let go of fear and start going after what you really want — even if it’s different from your original plan.

When I see something I love when shopping, I don’t say I want it — I say I need it. When I just want something, I tell myself that means I don’t love it… and there’s no point in buying something you just like (unless it’s on sale… sometimes). So why can’t I treat my life like I treat my clothes? Maybe I should.

So many things get in the way of pursuing dreams. Money, relationships, a benefits package, the need to buy a car, pay bills, pay rent, buy a house, afford a wedding, one day settle down to have kids. And often we let the fear of losing or delaying these things… or the fear of rejection/losing in general… prevent us from going after things we want. However, if you don’t try you’ll never know.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it somehow. And if an opportunity passes you by, it wasn’t meant to me. Just don’t let every opportunity pass you by.

I might not be going after my dreams in the traditional way, but I’m doing it (on the side). And if I discover other things I’m passionate about along the way – then so be it. If anything, I’ve learned a lot of things I don’t want to be doing since graduation — so that’s good.

But there’s no need to freak out at age 25. You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you. And you can completely change your life’s direction now if you want to.

I knew what I wanted to do at age 16. At age 8. And I need to stop letting life get in the way of me pursuing that. TC mark

This post originally appeared at Forever Twenty-Somethings.

image – Shutterstock
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