I recently re-read pages of an old diary I had almost ten years ago. In the process, while I took note that a lot of things have changed and my life today is drastically better than I would have imagined it to be back then. I realised that something fundamental hasn’t changed. I am still trying to answer the exact same questions and struggling with the same indecision as I was back then: what do I love and what do I want to do with my life? And I have the feeling I’m not alone, but that a bunch of us falling between Millenials and Gen Z (I like to call us Gen Lost) are on the same boat.
In the meantime, I’ve done so many things. Graduated from high school, gotten a bachelor’s degree, (practically) wrapped up two master’s degrees, travelled to so many places, and worked in a bunch of different jobs. And yet it feels like none of that has taken me any closer to finding those answers.
Of course, that’s not entirely true. I’ve learnt a great deal about myself in the process – things I enjoy, ones I don’t, what I’m good at and what I’m not. But still, I keep on circling back to these same questions over and over again. The answers I’ve found so far don’t seem to connect to something that would make sense and satisfy my need for answers. At times, these thoughts are paralysing me – I feel that because I can’t focus on one things, I can’t do anything.
Although I am very happy about the path I’ve taken so far and the study and career choices I’ve made, the last year and switching the balance from studying full-time and working on the side to working full-time and studying on the side has made me look at things from new perspectives. Until then, while studying was the main focus, it was quite easy to not overthink what comes next and simply fit my expectations of the future to “conventional” career paths and some type of career ladder. Now that I am at a point where I should start climbing that ladder, I realise that 1) there is no such thing as a “conventional” career path and everyone has their own ladder so following what’s “normal” wouldn’t make any sense anyway, and 2) my priorities might actually lie in completely different places from the assumptions that I had made about myself as a young professional previously. Now that’s enough to give place to an identity crisis I’d say. The good news is: I’ve also realised that pretty much no one else, no matter their age or story, knows exactly what they’re doing either. And that’s actually pretty reassuring. In addition, I’ve found so much inspiration from friends, acquaintances and strangers on how one can lead a life that looks like them, regardless of whether outsiders would consider those choices “smart” or not. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve realised that the most important is to lead a life that looks and feels like “you”.
I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life studying, following a more or less conventional tunnel. Now I’m getting out of the tunnel, and before jumping blindly into the next one, I want to take time to look around. Maybe there’s another tunnel that I hadn’t noticed before. Or maybe there’s a path that’s not even a tunnel. Who knows, but I want to find out. I want to take time to reflect on what I have done so far, and which parts of it all I want to keep for the future and which were lessons learnt, and also explore new things that I wouldn’t have even thought about so far, or that I might have dismissed until now because they did not fit in the picture I had painted. Inside of me there’s both an eager young professional that wants to take on new challenges and learn, and a rebel who wants to do things differently and give more room to what makes me happy more broadly, not only in a professional sense. And In the middle of those, there’s me, and I think I can make both of those work together quite well. Actually, so far I think to a certain extent I have, but I want to experiment doing this more consciously. Call me a hopeless dreamer who got lost in a Hollywood movie or a rebellious Gen Z who’s watched too much Tiktok, but I think there’s more to life than a 9-5 and a comfortable home life. I want discomfort. I want growth. I want to feel and to learn and to experience. Both professionally and personally, and wherever those intersect.
Therefore, I’m taking some time for just that. And because I want to keep myself accountable for doing it and being reflective on what I do, as well as because I feel I’m not the only 20-something feeling lost out there, I want to share some of these experiences and reflections. In addition to that, creating content in different forms – writing, photo, video, you name it, has been on that “It would be nice to do more of X” list of things everyone has and never ends up doing any of it seriously because that’s how life tends to happen, so this if anything is the opportunity for that. What does this experimenting mean in practice? Well, the whole point is to be open for what comes, so I’m trying to not set myself a too strongly predetermined path, but it can take any form from fun experiences, ponderings on why I or others think or act they way I/they do, or reflecting and sharing about hobbies or professional projects. It’s about giving room more equally to both the little things and the big things in life. The only rule is that it needs to make me feel excited, because only if there’s a spark can you set a fire. And I want to see that fire come to life.
So my question to you is – are you tagging along on this journey?