When I was three or four years old, I told my mother that I wanted to be a piece of cheese when I grew up. In fourth grade, my occupational goals became a little bit more realistic and I realized that I wanted to be a marine biologist and a movie star.
My indecisiveness followed me to college where I originally enrolled as a philosophy major. In my junior year, I transfered schools and changed majors, thus causing me to join the ranks of the thousands of other kids my age who were on the five-year-plan.
Now, as a young adult, I honestly have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I do know that I want to write, but I don’t know how to incorporate that passion into a work environment that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer for 40 hours a week.
Recently, it seems, that more people in my immediate circle are risking it all to follow their dreams. I know of at least two people who have quit their well-paying media jobs in the last three months to pursue a career in the fashion industry. They’re selling their handmade clothing and jewelry online and waitressing on the side to support themselves.
Before rent and credit card debt and the need for health insurance, my plans for myself did not include Excel spreadsheets and multiple freelance and bartending gigs to help pay the bills. I wanted to change the world, or at least make it a better place. I wanted to travel. At one point, I wanted to own another horse and live in a loft above a barn. I still have exceedingly high expectations for myself, but now-a-days, my dreams seem to be on the back-burner. And I’m not just talking about putting them on hold for weeks or even months, I’m speaking in terms of years. Somewhere amidst the clutter of growing up, I’ve forgotten who I am and what is important to me.
One of the things I was taught in college that has stuck with me throughout the years is a term called eudemonia. It’s a state of living at your most authentic self, a way of flourishing across a lifetime. A person finds out exactly it is that drives them and uses their passions to create a kind of personal velocity. This is the only formula I think there is to leading a happy, fulfilled life. Forget about money, or status, or designer handbags. Find out what moves you and then focus in on that. Whether it be writing, or art, or math, or pasting dead bugs under glass frames, do whatever it is that you love to do. And do it well.