Answering Existentialism With Logistics: 3 Learnings
As Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York once said, “Opinions are like assholes. We all have them.”
I have to say (and it’s not the first time), I side with Bethenny!
Picture this: you’re standing in a corner at a holiday party. You’re chewing a huge piece of brie cheese atop an overly dry crumb of bread and you’re talking to that one family friend you haven’t seen in awhile. They’ve asked what you’ve been up to. Even though you know it’s a trap, you lean in to risk, hoping that you’ll come out the other side with clarity and support.
“Ugh. I’ve been working at my job for the past [insert time frame] and I’m just not happy. I was really thinking of taking some time off to regroup. Maybe I’ll go back to school! Maybe I’ll work on a farm. Who knows?!”
Once you’ve stepped into the ferocious employment bear trap, you’re left to endure a barrage of questions. “But how will you pay rent? Who will hire you if you have a break on your resume? Do you know what you want? You’re not 21 anymore!”
Uh oh! Family friend! Coming in hot!
No matter how old you are, or how far along in your career you’ve come, the lifelong burden of being a human being in the human condition is timeless.
This approach is what I like to call, “Answering existentialism with logistics.” I find it dangerous, dissociative, and disappointing (and I am alliterating on purpose). No matter how old you are, or how far along in your career you’ve come, the lifelong burden of being a human being in the human condition is timeless. Therefore, when you attempt to answer that which is intangible with what role to find on LinkedIn, you’ll likely reach even more cognitive dissonance than you’ve already experienced.
Here are some things I’ve learned when dealing with this type of conundrum:
No matter what, everything will be fine.
This advice can sound glib or minimizing, but I swear it’s the simplest truth of all. If you are in a bout of existentialism, followed by an “I’m going to risk it all!” attitude, remember that there is no such thing as a wrong choice in your career – unless, of course, you have a family relying on you or some other very important task.
Making space to take some steps back from your life for re-evaluation only ever leads to a refreshed perspective and a clearer idea of next steps.
Making space to take some steps back from your life for re-evaluation only ever leads to a refreshed perspective and a clearer idea of next steps. It doesn’t mean there won’t be days of hopelessness, or even days of fear of the unknown, but engaging your resiliency in your own life can be extremely empowering.
You should only focus on what you can work on today and then plan for tomorrow.
When we’re in our twenties (or thirties!), there is a significant feeling that the stakes of the future are incredibly high, or as my mom likes to say, “Nothing matters, therefore everything matters.” With the pressure to find purpose on our path (yes, another alliteration), we tend to overfocus on every decision we make, afraid that we’re somehow not investing in where we’re meant to end up in the future – getting in the way of destiny.
It might feel like you’re living in the minutiae, but it’s the smallest steps that lead to the biggest impact.
Omg, like, totally fair. BUT, I will say that this is a little too heavy if all you’re looking for in the present is progress day-to-day and effective change.
While keeping the big picture in mind can be helpful, create tactical, achievable plans for yourself every day. That way, you can wrap up the day knowing you did all you could. And then make another plan for tomorrow. It might feel like you’re living in the minutiae, but it’s the smallest steps that lead to the biggest impact.
Stop giving your power away.
Let’s get back to that family friend for a second. You know, the one who responded to your prompt with projections and fear mongering! It is always tempting to seek feedback from others when you’re on the precipice of change, hoping to get affirmation or validation that you’re inkling to shift gears isn’t idiotic.
It took me a long time to understand that involving other people in my personal journey, was a form of giving away my power and leaving room for a ton of self-doubt.
The impulse is valid, however the advice that you’ll receive back is often… well, not. During my own journey of “taking risks” and “making changes,” it took me a long time to understand that involving other people in my personal journey, was a form of giving away my power and leaving room for a ton of self-doubt.
Remember that no one else can travel down your path but you. Look for people who are nurturing and endorsing of what you’re looking to do next (even if that means quitting your job with no job). Better yet, start journaling or seeking out activities that will remind you to trust yourself and feel good in your daily decisions.
I know a lot of this sounds ~abstract~ and potentially hoopty doopty (that is what people call airy fairy things, right?), but needing to re-evaluate one’s life comes up more than once in a lifetime. Is it uncomfortable? Very. Is that discomfort a bad thing? Well, as Jason Reynolds once wrote, “Be not afraid of discomfort. If you can’t put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable, then you will never grow. You will never change. You will never learn.”
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