A woman in her mid-50s in a local group I’m in stood up and admitted “I still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up!” She was clearly frustrated that she was her age and still hadn’t figured it out.
I saw looks of sympathy and understanding come from many of the other members of the group. This type of admission always puzzles me because I don’t understand the yearning under it. This seems to be something that creatives and wanderers worry about more than other people. But, who knows, perhaps when I’m older I’ll feel the same way.
What puzzles me about it is that creatives are always on a quest of one type of the other. Always altering reality around them. Getting bored with “who they are” and what they do. To be a creative is to be a well-spring of change – we aren’t known for our predictability and stability for good reason.
So, the yearning to “know what you’re going to be” seems to be a wish to be something you’re not, to know where things are going like there’s a there somewhere in the future that we’re heading toward. But, as Machada said, “wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.”
There is no who or what we’re going to be out there in the future; we become who we are and what we are by walking. [Click to tweet this. Thanks for sharing!)
I think there’s something deeper at play: the person who yearns to know who she’ll be is looking for meaning and acceptance. She wants to know that the choices that she’s made – the adventures and the misadventures – were all headed in a direction that made sense and meant something. She wants to be able to tell her story in a coherent way that doesn’t look like it’s been aimlessly going from one thing to the next; a story that doesn’t look like a score of unfinished creative projects, half-careers, and sojourns in a yurt in a desert somewhere (real or metaphorical).
She wants a simple story of a successful life well-lived rather than the complex, wandering weirdo life that looks more like a tapestry constantly being woven or damaged goods constantly being repackaged.
Every choice we’ve made in the past becomes a part of our story, and some stories are simply more complex than others. There’s rarely a correlation between the richness and depth of a story and its simplicity. We write our stories and make meaning daily. We are conscious beings hurled moment by moment towards a void that becomes firm in impact.
Most of us couldn’t have imagined the life we live today 5 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. If we truly show up, we have no idea what our life will look like in 5 or 10 years, either. Next year, I can see. Next quarter, I can make concrete. Next week, I can plan. Tomorrow, I can live in the present AND build a better tomorrow.
But I’ll pass on the helping of worrying what I’ll be when I grow up, thank you. I’d rather have a generous portion of the adventure du jour.