No one ever tells you how life works after college. Nobody tells you just how boring a well-paying job is and how depressing it is to wait for Friday COB 50 weeks out of the year. No one mentions how much time is actually wasted even in the most intense work environments and how the nagging sense that you’re wasting the prime years of your life never goes away. Nothing can prepare you for this reality.
The ones who are really lost are the Creatives. The free and lost souls. The ones who pity friends in med school or dent school or just grad school in general. The ones who have big dreams but are afraid to admit they have them. The ones who want to create and bullshit for a living but can’t find a practical way to do so. They are the ones who really feel lost.
These are the ones I love. Little lost souls in their early twenties. Maybe I whine so much they see a kindred spirit. Maybe they just need some hybrid uncle-friend who pretends to listen. I tell them all the same thing:
Don’t be scared and don’t compromise. Not yet, anyway. In the longview, a few weeks, months, even years of searching is a small price to pay for contentment. The only real mistake you can make right now is to be scared and settle. Contentment is life’s great puzzle. Jigsawed pieces made of money, and independence and security and creativity and love and whatever else matters to you. It’s all a delicate balance, you obsess over one and it’s at the expense of the others. Find what really fulfills you and chase it, even if it’s scary. What is it that gives you a sense of accomplishment? What makes the time fly by? The only real mistake you can make right now is to ignore those things.
Maybe it’s writing a song. Maybe it’s snowboarding. Maybe it’s digging ditches. These don’t have to be hobbies. A true dream job isn’t vacation; that’s vacation. A great job is about improvement: making life better for yourself and whoever else cares. That’s it. Pursue those things without fear, chase contentment. Do work that drives you crazy when someone else is better at it than you. Do work that makes you proud. That’s how we improve.
Just don’t be scared. You are smart, honest, and kind. You’ll be fine. Go ahead and fail. Get used to it (P.S. you never get used to it, but you get real good at getting back up). It’s ok to suck now. You’ve gotta start somewhere. Just start. Shut up and start.
And please remember me when you’re happy and rich.