As much as we’d like to deny it, many of us who are in our early 20s constantly strive to be one of those who “have it all together” when in reality, no one is like that. And I am comforted to hear that we’ve come to accept this thought as a modern day norm. I cannot tell you how often my friends and I would share stories of our daily struggles to each other.
Obviously, there is no best way to living your life but I do want to stress that there are other paths out there that you can take, paths that are not often taken by others. To tell you the truth, I think I’ve been through enough s*** to realize that there is more to life than striving whatever society deems as success. Like I’ve said before, I don’t care much about the money, position, or prestige that come along with pursuing a career, nor do I care about listening to other people’s aspirations for the like.
Oh, and if you think I’m doing all of this to make a name out of myself, you’re wrong.
Let’s get this straight. When I’m making any life or career-related decisions, I am focused on the following questions as they are the foundation of my personal values:
- Am I learning and growing from this experience? Am I closer to becoming the person I envisioned myself being?
- Am I creating something that I enjoy creating? Am I doing it not just to fulfill my ego?
- Am I making a difference to the world? Is what I’m creating adding value of some sort?
I respect those who are on the path of building a career for themselves at a young age, but I also want to stress that it is completely fine if you don’t know what you want to do either in your 20s.
On the other hand, in my opinion; if you don’t know what you want to do, you should constantly and actively seek out answers – whether it’s reading books and articles, networking with new people, taking on different temporary jobs or internships, signing up for lessons/classes, taking on creative projects (like me), listening to Podcasts, or traveling, etc. The more you explore, the more you know what you care and not care about investing your time in.
I think what really matters regardless of your career-related decisions is whether or not you are making decisions for your own benefit, for your own personal investments. When you’re working for a company, are you still investing time in yourself? Will you be using the skills that you are learning 10 to 20 years from now? Are you using that time to not only serve what the company is asking out of you? Are you happy where you are? Are you constantly investing in your personal growth everyday ?
I’m going to take a step further and say that you can live a happy and self-fulfilling life even if you are currently not investing in a career full-time or don’t plan on pursuing any traditional career path anytime soon. Of all the people I know, I find it difficult to express this thought because who isn’t focused on investing in a career nowadays?
I personally know only one person who has actively chosen to quit corporate America and live out of social norms for her own sake, although I have heard stories from strangers who have done so as well. Taking on temp jobs so that they can save enough money to travel the the world is an example of decisions that have led these non-conformists to grow and experience life however they please, without anyone to tell what they can or cannot do. It’s also an example of decisions that some people would not have thought or considered choosing out of fear of instability.
However, I would argue that those who have chosen to opt out of career ladders have become so removed from these social constructs of happiness and success that it doesn’t take much to make them happy. And it shouldn’t for you or me either.
What I’ve learned: it doesn’t take much to live a happy and self-fulfilling life nor does it take much to sustain yourself. Your decision to quit from whatever is making you unhappy does not make you any lesser nor should it matter to anyone else but you. Your decision to quit from whatever is making you unhappy is valid.
You are in complete control of your happiness because happiness is a choice.
This is one of my absolute favorite articles because of where I am now. I would highly recommend you to read (thank you to my cousin who shared this): http://qz.com/800475/millennials-need-to-ditch-their-parents-outdated-career-ladders-and-embrace-job-hopping/
Disclaimer: I want to acknowledge that I am writing this post from a privileged position.