I don’t have a clue. Do you?

Ignorance is bliss?

I really did think I would have it all figured out by now. Well, guess what? I don’t have a clue. And that’s fine!

It’s true. I don’t have a clue. 

There. I said it. But are we even allowed to say such a thing in today’s society?

The sky is the limit, pretending you are all that is the norm, and complaining is sooo 2014.
When practically the first thing you are asked in a conversation with a stranger is something along the lines of “What do you do for a living?” how do you answer that question with: “I wish I knew…”?

Society feeds us with the idea that we will reach happiness through success. Success is often defined by having a great job, an even better salary, an impressive car, and a huge house in the suburbs. Not to mention an attractive life partner, charming kids, and the cutest pet. Of course. Having a career is bliss!

Without going into whether we should even want all those things, what about those of us who don’t know (yet) what we want to do? Having many interests and talents – if you will – creates opportunities, which ironically only makes matters worse by leading to seemingly endless options and choices, which leads to… Having no idea what you want. And being terrible at making decisions. Or is that rather the cause of the problem?

My story
Now, I am not saying I don’t do anything for a living. You’re on my business website, after all. In fact, I have brought home the bacon fair and square ever since I was 17. I have done almost everything from being a dish washer to an independent translator, but I just haven’t found “it” yet.

After earning a Bachelor Degree in International Business and a Master Degree in Marketing Management from a well-known and respected university in the Netherlands, the world was (supposed to be) at my feet.

And it was.
Just in different ways than I had always imagined.

Up until that point in my life it had seemed logical for me to build up some sort of successful career in whatever I would set my mind to. And indeed, at age 21, fresh out of college, great GPA and an extensive list of extracurricular activities,  the offers from Big Firms – Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PWC, to name a few – were literally rolling in.
(though sometimes I wonder if that is my memory playing games with me)

I, however, could not have cared less. I had set my mind to traveling. And, as you can read in my Bio, I can honestly say that I have done my fair share of traveling ever since. From a year-long backpacking adventure through 20-odd countries, to a whole new life in Argentina for four years, to shortly being back in the Netherlands, to an unexpected move to New Orleans, USA, in 2014.
And the list goes on. There is quite a bit of traveling coming up this year, as I will be moving from New Orleans, USA – via the Netherlands, with a detour to Sweden, and a two-month journey through Southeast Asia – to Destination Unknown, Australia. New adventures, new excitement!
Or…. So you’d think. But the lack of the latter is an issue I probably ought to tackle in another post.

Where was I? Oh yes. All those companies I didn’t give the light of day.
There I was, finally ready to make all my ambitions come true. All the hard work, discipline, and endurance had paid off. I was now a Master of Science. And I had beaten most fellow students to the bush.

While they were still stressing over the last opportunity to pass that impossible statistics exam or the never-going-to-meet thesis deadlines, visiting career fairs and participating in company pre-screenings, I found myself sitting in a travel agency. And when after only a short conversation, which I honestly thought to be purely hypothetical at the time, I was presented with a long list of flights the representative had already reserved for me without me knowing, I signed the document without a trace of doubt.

Done. Decided. I was going to do this. I was going to set off into the world. By myself.

There was a plethora of different cultures, languages and other knowledge out there to be found and I’d be exploring all of it. And even if I had heard the little voice inside my head asking me if I was sure what I was doing – What about your career? – I would have told it to butt out. I deserved this. I had studied hard for four years and fought even harder to get back on my feet again. Literally.
Besides, my ‘classmates’ were all well into their twenties, if not reaching or even past thirty years of age. I was 21, so I figured I had plenty of time to do all that later. Whatever ‘all that’ was supposed to entail.

Long story short: I am now 28, I have visited over 42 countries, and I have lived on three different continents. Soon to be four. I speak six languages fluently as a result.

No regrets
Needless to say, I have not regretted that decision. Ever.

Or have I?
What about that twitching feeling in my stomach when LinkedIn proudly sends me an email to congratulate such-and-such with his or her latest promotion? Or what about the constant feeling in my gut that I might not get a “good” job if I decide to want one in the future? Or the nagging sensation that I don’t really have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Yes, well… What about that?
Do I really care about that, or am I supposed to care about that because it’s what society tells me to care about? What is a good job anyway? Can I not just be happy having done my own thing all these years?

Talk about luxury problems. I know!

No clue
Here’s what I know. I want to choose a career path that I like, since I’ll be following it for a long time.
There are plenty of things I like to do, and I could even tell you some things I am really good at.
But when it comes to deciding which job I want to pursue, I do not have a clue.

No problem
Anybody, including myself – on good days -, would tell me to not worry and that something interesting and challenging will come my way. And that somehow everything will turn out fine. For the sake of your sanity, I will spare you the bad days 😉

A part of me has started to believe that ignorance might indeed be bliss. I mean, if only we were all really good at just one thing, wouldn’t that make life so much easier? We’d be destined to do that one thing, and that’s that. Problem solved! Now of course, most people would probably want to fulfil their neighbor’s destiny, in search for greener grass, but it’s a tempting thought all the same.

It would certainly take the pressure off. Imagine someone stepping in and straight up telling you what your calling is. What you ought to become. And you, in turn, loving it.

Reality check
Well… Unless you’re still a child, I’m sorry to have to tell you that is not going to happen.
Without pushy parents or bossy teachers around, we are simply going to have to deal with our inability to make a decision on this matter. The more you think about it, the more you don’t know. Not to mention the irrational fear creeping up inside that by the time you finally find out what you want to do with your life – if ever – it will be too late. It will be a job you can no longer do, or require an educational path you can no longer take.

On good days, I realize this fear is not only irrational and most likely uncalled for, but also completely senseless, as there is no way to know what lies ahead in life. On good days, I am happy to carelessly ride the waves on the tide called life. Sunshine tickling my skin, a smile plastered on my face, and not a single cloud on the horizon.

But today is a bad day.
Today, I too have been caught by this virus.
Because that’s what it is. A virus. As defined by the dictionary: ‘A harmful and destructive influence’, which, not unlike on a computer, erases all other data on your disk. It tends to fully take over your mind.

Letting go
Not today, though. Today I am writing about this to you. Let me give you something to think about.

I am not the only one who has bad days.
I am not the only person out there who feels this way.
In fact, in today’s society, we are probably the (vast) majority.

So here’s my plea.

Let’s stop being embarrassed about not having a clue.
Let’s stop frantically trying to figure out our purpose in life.
Let’s celebrate our opportunities and enjoy whatever rolls in on the mysterious tide of life.

Yeah, let’s.
Not always easy, but all the more worth it.

And would you be so kind to tell the Bug of Bad Days to buzz off?


PS: We all have to find our way on the path of life. Some know their route. Others have no clue. Don’t worry, getting lost is the fun part of getting anywhere!
PPS: Part of my own I-do-not-have-a-clue-but-I-will-get-through process is getting (back) into writing. Here’s to hoping I’ll keep my promise.

Have you always known what you wanted to ‘be when you grow up’? And did you become just that?

Did something happen in your life to make you change your beliefs? Quit your career or actually launch one?

Do you roll along with life’s waves or do you desperately swim against the current?

Have you ever made a decision that you regret? Or regret not having done it?

Whatever it is you know or don’t know, do or not do, please share your clues with the ‘clueless folk’!
Who knows, yours might be the missing pieces to someone else’s puzzle! 🙂

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