So, I’m about to turn 25, and there’s a bit of a conundrum that a lot of us face when we’re at this stage in our lives. I know that I’m no shiny unique unicorn, it is a common part of the human experience!
Our twenties are a time of decisions, and forks in the road! The things we decide now, can decide our whole future. Freaked out yet?!
So, naturally, due to this intense pressure to make decisions that will result in my entire life spinning in different directions, I get a bit stressed out. I begin to wonder if my choices that I’m making are actually the right ones, if I’ll regret the choices that I make today, and think a few years from now: Why didn’t you do the other thing?
However, I had a bit of an epiphany today and thought I’d write about it! The reality is that we can change our minds whenever we like. We are evolving and changing as people every single day, and our motivations and desires will be different in the future than they are today. So, all we can do is make decisions with the information we have today, and then maybe change our routes later on if we decide differently. There’s no use in stressing out now.
Also, these limits that I find myself placing on my future actually may not even exist. This may sound a bit overly deep, but bear with me.
In the context of my current situation, I was having a few second thoughts about my plan to go to Japan for my semester abroad. I was worried because I’m not at a very high level at Japanese yet (I’m on the third class at Sydney University’s Continuing Education School right now), so even though I love it, I was thinking that Spanish maybe would be a better choice to pursue. Since, I know that I am quite fluent in Spanish already, because I am from California where it’s extremely culturally relevant and I also studied it for over seven years in school. So, I was recently listening to some Spanish music and realized the sheer quantity of it that I understood. I thought, gosh, if I went abroad to Spain or South America, I’d be fluent in no time! Am I making a horrible mistake by choosing Japanese?!
Then, I recently realized, no. I’m not. Since, I’m currently passionate about learning Japanese and am extremely excited about living in Japan, a place with a culture so different from mine.
Just because I am choosing to go to Japan now, doesn’t mean I can’t pursue Spanish as well, eventually. I have a long life to live!
Eventually, maybe I’ll decide I want to learn Spanish and take an immersion course in Argentina. Maybe while backpacking through Europe I’ll fall in love with Spain and go there many times into my old age and take up flamenco dancing. Who knows? The main point of this is that, just because you’re having a conundrum about choosing a route to take your life in right now, doesn’t mean that you can’t do both things. Just not at the same time. Another meme, anyone?
A bit of reading I did a year or two ago helped me out with this a lot, especially in the context of being paralyzed by indecision and feeling stuck. I find this also is great to remember when in the midst of a depressive episode, and it seems like my control over my life is completely gone. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, which is all about the importance of your twenties, has a section all about that feeling you get when you’re just not sure which direction to turn.
“What do I do? It’s like I’m in the middle of on open ocean and I don’t know which way to swim, and every direction seems just as unsure and worrisome as the rest.”
What was Meg Jay’s advice? To just swim. Swim in any direction. Since, if you’re swimming and decide it was the wrong way to go, you can always change your mind. This is infinitely better than just treading water in one spot, without any input or experience to guide you.
So, I guess in (quite a few words) this blog post is just to say: Sometimes you’ll freak out about a decision you have to make and think it’s a make or break moment that could ruin you, or cause you regret down the road. When you start to feel this way, remind yourself that you can always do more, see more, try more things later. It’s not either or. It’s and, and both!
P.S. I’m completely aware that there are some choices, like whether or not to have kids, that is a bit more “either or” and can leave you feeling much more worried because there isn’t an “and” and “both” in that equation. It’s a bit of a different subject, and Cheryl Strayed already wrote an amazing piece about it, so click here to go read it!