Alright, someone pinch me already. Just the other day, my parents were walking me into high school on the first day of grade 9, drying my tears, handing me my bright pink backpack. Now I’m wearing a blue pinstriped button-up and lying in bed exhausted from a full day of working a corporate job internship. Did I mention seven years have gone by, and I’m about to go into my last year of University? Hm. Now how in the world did that happen?
Time really does fly, and now I’m thinking to myself: every single second of it counts. So don’t you dare waste it, Emily. So around seven years ago, I had imagined that by the age of 21, I would have my life figured out and be adulting, preparing to start a new chapter of my life or about to start the career I, oh so loved. HA. What absolute BULL SHIT. I just bought a peanuts Charlie Brown t-shirt today at the mall, and I’m lying beside my three stuffed animals eating chips and salsa on my unmade white bed while “Hurricane” by Bridget Mendler plays in the background. My mother would be so proud. Oh, and ya, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing with my life. I still shudder whenever someone asks, “oh, so what are you going to do with that” or “what are you planning on doing after your 4th year” and don’t even get me started with “Oh, you’re in Arts? So what’s next for you?”
Now, don’t get it twisted. This isn’t to get confused with a lazy and unmotivated young adult. I am a determined, intelligent and strong female, and since the day I stepped into my first classroom, I have been driven to succeed. Whatever the hell that means (see my latest article about success). And throughout my years of tireless work and dedication to my academics, I have longed for and craved that “AHA” moment. The moment, the epiphany you could say, where all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and I come to the grand realization of what I want to do. I’ve learned the hard way that stuff like that only really happens in the movies.
I have grown up believing that I needed to have it all figured out by a certain moment in time. First, it was grade 11, then grade 12 before course selection, then first year after “experimenting” with all sorts of Arts and Science classes, and then it became second year when I would have chosen my major. News flash. I’m done my third year of Film and Media, and have I figured it out? Absolutely not. No, I don’t want to make films, Grandma. And NO, I’m not going to be on television running channel 4 of news Grandpa. Sorry to disappoint you both, but I have yet to find my, how you say, calling? And thanks, mom and dad, the classic line of “don’t worry honey, I’m 53 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!” doesn’t make anything better. Haha so funny, I’m laughing my ass off.
Now, it’s time to blame society and all that jazz. For as long as I can remember, we have been taught that we need to “be something when we grow up.” We need to go to school, then go to school again, and AGAIN and MAYBE one more time if we want to make it in this world. We need to find our passion and love what we do, but we are ALSO going to have to make money while doing it. Ok, get it, sweetie? Now go and do it☺ Excuse me? Who decided that it was okay to put all this pressure onto us? Now the idea that I have to have something that I like to do is ingrained in my brain, and I’m freaking out because I still don’t know what that is.
When I was little, I first wanted to be a violinist, then a veterinarian, then a marine biologist and then….the list goes on. We’re taught so young to only have one passion in life that will make us successful when we grow up. So yes, speaking of that, I’m also worried at the same time about being financially stable and hello! Travelling the world! And oh, moving out of my parents’ house! But who said we couldn’t love more than one thing and have multiple passions? Or maybe live in our family house for as long as we need to and for the love of cheese-itz, not need to have an entry-level job straight out of University. Please, for all those who might be “on the right track,” working a promising co-op job or about to become a registered nurse, take what I say with a grain of salt. It is also really cool to know what you want to do, and if that one thing is what you have worked hard for and you know in your heart that you have found the right path to take, then awesome! I’m happy for you and proud of you. But some of us are still a little stuck at the fork of the road, and that is totally okay too.
What I’m trying to get at is –don’t worry your head too much. It’s going to be okay. Take it day by day, and don’t let societal pressures or your great aunt Karen stress you out about not “having it figured out.” Life is long! We are still young! And we still have so much to experience in this world. So, while we’re in our prime 20’s, enjoy your youth, embrace the peanuts-t-shirt-wearing, ice cream cone eating, dancing around, drinking too much, skinny dipping, harry potter crazed child within yourself. We don’t have to grow up so FREAKING fast.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard, but don’t get down on yourself if your friends might have a very professional job set up or interviews they have been preparing for. It’s okay. Oops, I sound pretty sarcastic right now, don’t I? I really don’t mean to. Maybe I’m just irritated because my friend has forced me to wait to watch the new season of Outerbanks with her. Anyway, all I’m saying is, do what makes you happy and if you might not know what that exactly is right now, just keep going, keep your head up. I promise it will work itself out in time and with the right attitude.
So, long story short, at the ripe age of 21, I am at that point where I live in this grey area and have NO idea what path to take moving forward. How long do I live at home? What will I do when I graduate? How will I make enough money to travel and experience the things I want to do? Why am I still getting in fights with my parents if I’m considered an ‘adult’ now? When will I be ready for a relationship? Will I ever find someone right for me? There are so many questions I ask myself daily, and sometimes I wish I could just go back to being a little kid again. I’m ready to take the next steps in my life, and there is something beautiful about it all, but I want to break the stigma that we need to grow up so FREAKING quickly! We don’t have to move out just yet or have it all figured out and prepare to start a business or get an entry-level job. Life is long and we have so much to experience. Sometimes it’s okay not to know and just to take it day by day. Enjoy your youth and embrace the child within yourself.
I will say that I used to be way more frazzled by something like this, but you know what, I’ve come to realize that I just got to trust the process. I know I am smart. I am driven. I am growing every day, and I continue to mature from life experiences and mistakes that I have made. After all, mistakes and bumps in the road only make us stronger and a little bit smarter. I have also taken up a hobby that I absolutely love, filling my soul with all things good. I started a podcast (@foodforthought) with my best friend, and the amount of self-fulfillment it has given me is insane! Who knew that something so small could mean so much to someone in the grand scheme of things? And hey, I’m a writer for MUSE. That’s pretty cool! So, I think that the most important thing to worry about is: the now. What can you do RIGHT NOW that will give you a sense of importance or confidence? What will make you happy in this present moment? Not what will make you happy five years down the road, because how are you supposed to know!! We simply can’t know what will make us truly happy from so far away.
So, go look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself: You’re doing good kid. Doing good. You got this. Less stress about the future. More gratitude for the now.
One thing that recently proved this to be true and gave me a sense of hope and certainty for the future was something my boss said to me the other day. When I say certainty for the future, I don’t mean in the sense of knowing everything, with a crystal clear picture of how everything is going to turn out. Still, more so in the sense that I know, if I continue with a positive outlook and a drive to improve, good things will happen. And that is good enough for me.
She said to me in our last meeting: “I am really, really curious and interested to be a fly on the wall, just to see where you go and what you do later in your life.” And as simple and quick as that, I knew I would be okay. She acknowledged my flourishment throughout my internship and my improvement, not only in the quality of my work but also in my confidence.
And that’s the key to life (in my humble opinion): continuous improvement. We are so caught up in the idea that we need to be exceptional and EXTRAordinary. And one way to get there is to grow up fast, achieving these great milestones that make others’ jaws drop. But what happened to admiring improvement and slow change, savouring the realities of what it is like to be young and learning from mistakes, or working really hard at one thing that leads to another great thing? That is what I’m gearing for in my life and future to come: even though I may not know exactly what I want to do or who I want to be, I just want to continuously improve: my skills as well as my personal growth. I will not let entitlement or false images of where I need to be, when I need to be there and how to impact the course of my path. I want to live my life doing the things that make me happy, that I work hard for, and that helps me grow and become the best version of myself (which will never truly come to a halt).
I am learning, thriving, and trusting the little girl that still lives in me. She would want me to be happy. She would know what is best for me. So, take a second. Tune out all the exterior noise for just one second. And tune into your younger self. What would they tell you right now?
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: EL REGRESO DE CARLITOS Y SNOOPY