I’ve been struggling the last couple of years to figure out what I want to do with my life. I realize that most people deal with this in college, or wait until they’re 45 and switch careers and/or buy a yellow sports car…so I guess that makes me a late bloomer suffering from early-onset mid-life crisis.
I didn’t graduate from college. It’s hard to regret this sometimes, since I think I spent my college years doing important growing up on the inside (rendering me incapable of going to class, obviously). Other times (such as now, in the middle of a pretty debilitating depression), I wallow in recrimination, whipping myself — mostly metaphorically — for the time and money I wasted on figuring out that I’m not a tortured artist or God’s gift to biblical studies or The Best Singer Ever, but instead just me: sorta smart, okay-looking, sometimes funny, likes music and Anne Lamott and Jesus and ponies and Buffy. (And Ash…which, granted, took a lot of time and energy and tears and tequila to figure out.) I beat myself up for not having been a better multi-tasker. Coudn’t I have gone on a journey of self-discovery and inner growth while simultaneously showing up for class? A lot of people do it, so I guess that makes me A Bad Person. And Evil. (That’s when I pull out the cat o’ nine and the hair shirt.)
After a good session of self-flaggelation, I try to remind myself that I’ve progressed somewhat since then. At that time, I was paralyzed with indecision because I didn’t want to narrow down my options. (This is an issue for people who are good — but not great — at a few things and don’t want to give anything up to become great at just one of those things.) I know now that I want to write, but my current paralysis stems from not knowing quite how to go about this pursuit…other than obvious, which is to sit in front of the computer and hug myself and rock like a large autistic child until I can string words together into a coherent sentence. I’m terrified of making the wrong choice: Should I go to school for an English degree? Should I quit my job and go freelance as a writer/editor? Should I rent a cabin in Montana for six months and finish my Great American Novel? Should I continue on in my job/life and hope that a bigger opportunity falls in my lap? Should I try quaaludes?
I think you can see my pentlemma. (See how there are five options, and how pente is the Greek word for five? This is why I should be a writer.)
I’m not good at making Ultimate Decisions. This is somewhat a function of my personality, but I know that at some point every person has to choose something, or they writhe on the bed hugging a pillow and moaning in a weird Grudge-like monotone because they’re so overwhelmed by the myriad of choices that their brains take a cigarette break and may or may not come back to work and they never, ever do anything they wanted to do because they’re too busy writhing on the bed moaning in a weird Grudge-like monotone. (I’m just guessing here.)
All this to say: How do people make these kinds of decisions? Seriously, I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who can choose one option over another. How do you do it? It’s not necessarily the fact that you can choose something, it’s that you can not choose a whole bunch of other things in favor of that something. It’s amazing! Tell me your secret. I don’t think I can move forward in any direction until I’ve figured this out.
And also: Does anyone else have this problem, or am I the only crazy person?