Where do I see myself in 10 years? Wherever the wind takes me

Courtesy UW Digital Collections, on Flickr

Courtesy UW Digital Collections, on Flickr

Can I let you guys in on a secret? I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t have long-term goals. I’m not driven by a specific passion. I’m just here, in the moment, trying to figure out what I want based on what I’m doing.

While some of you may gasp and think, “Wow, this girl’s going nowhere fast,” I’d assume at least a few of you go through life in a similar fashion. Let me throw a metaphor your way.

I’m living on a sailboat. I do have short-term goals and ideas of what I’d like to do. I have set sail for a specific location. But I know that the winds could change. And I’m OK with exploring.

Most people seem to live on a speedboat. They know exactly where they’re going and are on a mission to get there quickly. No delays. No direction changes.

You can also look at this in terms of personality. Yup, type A versus type B. Type A personalities are very ambitious, goal-oriented and competitive. Type B personalities like to go with the flow, are creative and don’t mind sacrificing a win if it leads to less conflict. Basically we have doers versus dreamers, here. Speedboats versus sailboats.

The other day my boyfriend and I were watching “The Big Bang Theory.” During the episode, Penny said that she never gets as passionate about things as her boyfriend, Leonard, does. It was hard for her to relate to Leonard, and she found herself wanting to have the same fire he had.

Right away, my boyfriend and I both deemed me as the Penny of our relationship. When my boyfriend finds something he likes, he jumps into it, full force. That’s not how I work.  I’m a little more timid with my interests. I need to test the waters and wade in. Maybe eventually I’ll love it, or maybe I’ll move on to something else.

I’m similar with my career. Yes, I have ideas regarding what I want to do with my life, but I feel like I need to actually test different options before saying, “This is what I love and want to do forever!”

I could feel for Penny when she wished she were passionate about something. It’s hard for a type B personality to be best friends with a type A. Type A’s seem so confident and sure of themselves and where they’re going. My take on life and goals is foreign to type A’s. My boyfriend will say, “I don’t understand how you don’t know what you want to do. How can you not know?” But how can he be so sure? How can he choose one flavor of ice cream without trying any other flavors?

I wish I knew what I was doing. I wish I could be so passionate about something that I would just go for it, balls to the wall.

Sometimes I feel like a bad person for living on a sailboat. My journey seems wandering and aimless. People may look at me and think I’m lazy and don’t care about reaching my full potential. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a very goal-oriented person, but I struggle with deciding what my goals should be. Sometimes I worry that I’ll get caught in the wake of my type A boyfriend and never really figure out what I want. So what’s a type B to do?

I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you another secret that might help. Ready for it? No one really knows what they’re doing; some people are just better at faking confidence and a sense of direction than others. It’s rare to find a person who has always known exactly what they want and has never changed their mind, so stop wishing you were that way. It’s not going to happen.

If you’re feeling lost or stuck in life, just pick something and do it. You’ll never know what you want unless you start trying things and eliminating what you don’t want. It’s OK to live on a sailboat as long as you’re happy and have a little wind. Just keep moving, and eventually you’ll land where you were meant to be.

What type of person are you when it comes to passion and goals? Do you ever wish you were different?


8 thoughts on “Where do I see myself in 10 years? Wherever the wind takes me

  1. Wishing you happy sailing, Lauren. I think you hit so many key points directly right, especially “No one really knows what they’re doing; some people are just better at faking confidence and a sense of direction than others.” And some people NEED to have a check-list for their lives in order to feel comfortable. If that works for them, so be it. As you say, it’s hard to be juxtaposed against these people (the story of my life, given that I work in academia and am more a sailboat person myself). How did you feel after reading “The Defining Decade” then? I felt slightly affronted and out-of-sorts because the author, Meg Jay, seems to advocate more of the speedboat version of living (I love that metaphor by the way). She basically says, find a path, and soon, or you’ll regret it in your 30s. You wrote a great overview of the book last time, but I didn’t get a sense of your emotional reaction.

    And, yes, I spent most of my 20s wishing I were different. I’m only now coming to truly and fully embrace who I am, recognizing that a different way of being brings many gifts into the world and into my own existence.

  2. Thank you! Surprisingly, I wasn’t too overwhelmed after reading “The Defining Decade.” It actually calmed me a little because I felt like I should be using my 20s to have a big adventure and find myself through exploration, which I wasn’t doing. Jay was pretty insistent on getting your stuff together right away, but breaking her advice down into baby steps was really helpful. Gaining identity capital seemed simple enough, since it’s basically choosing a few interests and pursuing them. Then identity capital leads to the next step of finding a job that includes these interests. And from there, who knows! You could love that and stick with it, or you could start gaining different pieces of capital to use toward a different career. (I know she wasn’t intending on her readers becoming job-hoppers, but it’s less stressful to think of it this way.)

    I think I have a better idea of what I want to do with my life than I even admit to myself, which might be why Meg Jay’s book didn’t send me into a spiraling panic. I just like to stay open to different opportunities so I won’t have a breakdown later on if things don’t work out. I know that people and situations change, so I want to be mentally prepared for any big changes that are thrown my way. Or maybe I just have commitment issues, haha.

  3. Great post! I think I waver between type A and B, but the thing I always come back to is that there just aren’t any guarantees, that yes, as you say, winds will change, and I’ll have to adapt. So my philosophy is just to try. You can’t know for certain, but you can always try.

  4. you say it all so well sweetie. you are too hard on yourself. you are cute smart and you know exactly what you are doing saying and thinking. /. arias verdict is in.she will not walk. but wonder what jury will hand down. luv and xoxoxo to you both.

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