This week I found myself sharing a bit of my experience with a good friend. When that happens, it starts a snowball effect in my mind and it's hard to shut off ... and when that happens, I write.
Our conversation reminded me of the fear I felt when I got close to high school graduation. I'm not sure exactly when it hit me that I would be gathering up my diploma and be cast out into the world of grownups but it was probably a week before I graduated. I have an incredible denial system that is still with me today. I wouldn't call it a character defect as it often saves me from sleepless nights. I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl and I like it that way, thank you very much.
Having said that, my parents decided to move from Haines, Alaska to Fairbanks, Alaska immediately after commencement. I had a hot boyfriend and he invited me to move in with him and it sounded like a great idea at the time. It was a crazy, fun-loving summer but then he got into a motorcycle accident which laid him up and it was time for me to go. I ended up in Fairbanks, clueless about what I was going to do with my life. My folks were going to charge me rent so I had to get a job fast. College was on the table and I was registered to go but my grades in high school were so mediocre that I was going to be on probation the first semester. I got a job at JC Penny and blew off college. Regrets? Yes, I regret not going to college, however, at that time I was not college material. It would have been a waste of good money and time. At that point, I'm pretty sure my parents said do something, Susan.
This is encouraging advice I remember giving to my son a very long time ago when he struggled to figure out what to do next. I believe those two words invite action. Trying to figure out the right move can be paralyzing. I get it. Just do something and while you are doing that you will be exposed to new people and new ideas. That's my experience. Not everyone knows early on in life what they want to do.
I eventually took a better job at a bank. After banking, I worked in the mental health field for a while and eventually into public service in the legal system. I was never afraid of changing jobs. Really, I was more afraid of standing still.
Just do something. Say yes. Acknowledge fear. Make some plans. Be willing to change those plans. Be open to change. Don't get hung up on results. Ask questions. Talk to people. Write about it. Do anything. Let go of old ideas. Ask others what they did. Start today.
I'm closer to the end of my working life than I've ever been. I have enjoyed a couple of different career choices and have definitely been able to continue flying by the seat of my pants. If I had it to do over again ... well, I can't do it over again. This is the path I chose. I am making the best of it.
Do I still struggle with figuring out what I want to do with my life? You bet I do. It dawned on me after the conversation with my friend that I still get to live by my own words. Today I'm going to do something and see what happens.
How about you? Are you doing something, or are you stuck?