Living in the city of Manhattan means watching others reach for, work for and achieve their life ambitions. Like stopping in the center of a busy New York side walk, others are pushing anxiously by me to get somewhere important quickly and I’m left wondering, "where am I going?"
“Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life? What is my passion? When will I know? Is it too late to find it?"
Some use others passionate pursuits for success as an inspiration to achieve their own glory. Others put the up-and-comers down so that they can feel better about their own situation. Me, I just beat myself up on a daily basis for not knowing my passions, not having a plan towards achieving success, not being strong enough to reach for happiness and being fat.
After drowning sorrowfully in my own self-pity, I eat some cake.
My fears are simple… “I’m too old. It’s too late. I will blow it. I will only ever be mediocre. I'm lazy. I can't do it. I change my mind too often. I will never be the best at anything. It’s too late.”
The fear first paralyzes me into inaction and gets me stuck in a job and a place that is not right for me. And then, after months of painfully standing still doing nothing to change or better my situation, instead of thinking through options and carefully making strategic choices, I jump on the next thing that comes my direction. I don't even pause long enough for a conscious thought, focus or reflection about whether or not this will make me closer or further from becoming my best person. I try on the next career like a party dress on Friday night. After a few spins in the mirror and a glance at my ass-I decide it will never work and toss it into a growing heap on the floor of my closet.
“I want to be a scholar. If I have a PhD that will prove I'm smart.” –One BA, one MA, one Certificate in Negotiation/Mediation and a lifetime of college loan debt later, I have given up on this idea. Not only is it not glorifying and not glamorous, but the amount of pretzels I eat while procrastinating a simple term paper threatens to find me at 300 lbs by my 35th birthday with four cats and a crane to get me out of the house. But with a very good library.
“I want to be an international aid worker.” –Four international missions to third world countries, two near death experiences, ten cases of Dysentery and I decided it’s too unpredictable. The people are dysfunctional. It’s too hard to build a career. It’s too isolating.
“I want to be a Diplomat.” –Passing the Foreign Service Written and Oral exams on the first try convinced me it was meant to be. But as I sat idly on a list of eligible candidates waiting for my name to be called and my orders issued, I became discouraged. After a year of waiting and checking the mail, I was forced to deal with the reality that I would have to take the test again to up my score. I decided it was too hard. I didn't want to wait anymore. By the time I succeeded in gaining entry, I would be too old. Besides, the State Department is too bureaucratic. Do I want to be working in fluorescent lit rooms with no windows for the rest of my life?
“I want to be in the fashion industry.” -Buying designer men’s clothing for an internet site wasn’t nearly as glamorous and interesting as I thought it would be. A lot of fucked up thankless retail people, a lot of humility, and the promise of an uber slow ride to the top. It wasn’t my calling.
“I want to be a Wall Street Mogul, make money, be powerful, and wear a business suit to work every day.” -A move to New York, a credit card at J.Crew and Banana, and a mid-level entry job into a corporate firm… and my individuality and creativity have been snatched from me like a virgins innocence on the morning after prom night when she wakes up in a field with no shoes, no bra and no idea what she did the night before. The corporate world is boring. I'm never going to make it to the exciting part.
Somewhere along the road, my own vanity, negativity, propensity for boredom, impatience and fear of fluorescent lighting have left me with nothing. Nothing but a resume that looks like I took a hundred varieties of pasta and threw them up against a wall to see which would stick.
I realize that nothing happens instantly. No matter what the job, it takes work to rise to the top. And you have to love what you do to work passionately enough to pull yourself from the bottom.
My ego wants to be famous and noticed for being something spectacular, my soul just wants to know that I’m doing what I was intended to do. My head just wants to quell the screams of a thousand unrealized dreams swimming in my chest and pushing violently against my heart to get out and be heard.
In the end, I just want to walk with purpose through the crowd.