I’ve gotten a lot of emails over the past week from aspiring writers & artists, future architects & engineers. College students. Recent grads. Chronologically young, or simply young at heart.
People trying, desperately, to figure it all out. Y’know — life, love, work, livelihood, the universe . . .
And everyone seems to be bare-knuckle boxing with some variation of the very same question:
“How do I figure out what I want to be when I grow up?”
Well. May I remind you that nobody knows what’s going to rick your roll, rock your socks, flip your system & secure your future. Nobody. It’s your job — your central quest, as a human being — to fit all the mysterious pieces together.
But that being said, here’s my two & a half cents.
The only way to figure out what you want to BE — or more precisely, who you already ARE — is to engage in a lifelong game of Trial & Error.
I didn’t step into my current career & identity overnight — and I certainly didn’t have a roadmap. For most of my life, I’ve been a proud dilettante — trying on roles, testing identities, playing with my powers, seeing what fit. When things felt RIGHT, I went full-throttle. When things felt WRONG, I got out — fast.
I’ve been a public radio promotions coordinator & a freelance journalist. A wheatgrass juicer & a computer lab supervisor. A dramaturge’s assistant & a yoga studio receptionist. A student of Victorian literature & a prophylactic saleswoman at licensed brothels in southern New Zealand. I’ve written poetry, erotic stories, op-ed pieces, dry-as-a-bone technical articles, book reviews and artist profiles — and gotten ‘em published: sometimes for money, sometimes for giggles, and once, for a pair of ski lift tickets. And that’s just the frosting on my résumé cupcake.
I’ve discovered my talents — and continue to do so — by trying, floundering, noticing, reinventing, and trying again. And again.
Maybe there’s an easier, swifter way. A quick-fix pill for self-illumination. If you find one, let me know.
Till then . . .
LOTS of things.
Don’t get attached to obvious titles or tracks.
Examine your feelings.
See what lights you up.
Do more of that, and less of the other shit.
Repeat for approximately 100 years.