I was always envious of people who knew exactly what they wanted to do in life. The kind of person that wants to be a doctor from an early age. Or the colleague with a career plan that takes them to the top.
Whether it’s a respect for this determined spirit or a deep-seated envy of their focus and drive, I often found myself wishing I was more like them. Less prone to dreaming and equipped with a rock-solid future plan.
I never seemed able to work out what my plan was. The words “late starter” were often used around me as I emerged from my teens. Slow to get going but he’ll figure it out.
But I couldn’t seem to figure it out.
Frustrating as it was to be around me, I didn’t know what I wanted in life. The notion of a perfect job evaded me and thoughts of how to settle down in a chosen career plagued me.
A conversation with one of my father’s friends remains seared into my memory. Apparently unhappy with his own situation, he told me to figure out who I was and what I wanted as quickly as I could. The alternative was to lead a life full of regrets.
The idea of a regretful life terrified me. To be unfulfilled over such a long time was madness, but I couldn’t see a clear path ahead and so the doubt increased.
As my university years came to an end, I continued to watch others enter respected professions and graduate careers while I did nothing. I was no clearer in my thoughts and I still had no plan of action.
Then I entered the working world.
I joined one of the largest firms in my home town but it was a poor choice. The role didn’t fit. The culture didn’t suit. I didn’t belong.
And yet I carried on.
I tried to change my deal. I returned to my studies in pursuit of a different career and an improved way of life but the end result was the same – a job that didn’t sit well and a career path not for me.
For eight long years I did my duty as a public servant. I wore a brave face around colleagues, I worked hard, I endured the unhappiness and I slowly died on the inside.
After fourteen years of working in a way that didn’t satisfy, it was inevitable that the darkness would come calling.
Day upon day sat at my desk in my grey government cubicle, I was lost.
Living with me during this period of my life couldn’t have been easy. Angry and frustrated, I was often annoyed at myself and prone to long bouts of sadness and despair.
Others tried to help but they couldn’t find the answer. How can you help someone who doesn’t know how to help himself?
I tried career counsellors, life coaches, even a psychologist. And still the answer wouldn’t come. Suggestions were made and advice given but the outcome was always the same.
I was stuck.
And through those dark months the sadness grew.
As the desperation enveloped me, there was one small thing that kept me sane.
I started this blog and it began to grow. I used every opportunity in the workplace to write and the frequency of my blogging also grew. I wrote for other blogs, guested on websites and found publications willing to take on my words.
I wrote and wrote and wrote.
The writing became an outlet and a means of avoiding darker thoughts. As the blog increased in popularity, so did the distractions. From tinkering with the design to developing ideas, my focus shifted away from the job, as I threw myself into the writing craft.
I focused less on the situation at hand and found a way to become inspired again. I found new interest around me, a way to express myself, to discover joy. Call it a creative outlook or a new sense of purpose, I saw my writing as a form of hope – a way to give hope – and I shrugged the weight of despair from my shoulders.
As my writing developed, different working scenarios began to materialise. People responded to my words and listened to what I had to say. My work flourished and exciting possibilities opened up before me.
A hobby became a passion. A passion became a full-time working role.
The reason I’m telling you this isn’t to quit your day job and create a new blog with great success. It’s not to ask you to run and forget all you might have achieved up to this point.
The reason I tell you this is because hope can come from the most unexpected places.
At a time when I grew fearful of how fast life was deteriorating, when the end result didn’t look good, the thing that saved me was right in front of my eyes.
I was lost. Forgotten who I was. Had no real goals, only broken dreams. I hit rock bottom.
And then I started to climb out.
My writing helped me rediscover myself, find my true passion and re-evaluate what mattered most to me.
I was writing.
One day I finally convinced myself I was a writer. A genuine, legitimate, real-life writer. With that, I turned my back on fourteen years of bad choices, ill-fitting jobs and a working world that wasn’t right for me and unfair on those around me.
Writing was there from the start. It was a part of me and who I am. I’ve got a long way to go. I’m still learning, still growing, still restless to know more.
I’m not there yet but I’m on my way. I’ve made a career of one of the world’s oldest and greatest professions and I care passionately about what I do.
Importantly, I found myself.
I found a way to write about my life.
In doing so, I found a way to start creating it.
Is this familiar to you? Have you struggled to work out what you want to do with your life? Let me know in the comments below.