Making Peace With Angst

I can’t figure out if we’re supposed to be a mess in our twenties or if that’s just the bane of over-thinkers.

I have no answers.That’s the truth. And I’m not seeking either.

I’ve started to dread family gatherings and high school reunions for their questions. People presuppose that because I’ve always had ambitions, I know where I’m going. Ironically enough, it was my habit of knowing that precipitated me in a crisis, leaving me to wonder if all my knowing meant anything at all. One spring, while having a drink with a guy, I told him in a sort of half-test, half-confession tone, “I’m a workaholic”. He answered, “I love my job”. It hit me then that in being so focused on achieving and accomplishing, I’d simply stopped being passionate about what I did. Passion had quietly slipped away before I noticed. That was a terrifying thought. I didn’t know how or when… Somehow I’d always thought of myself as someone who worked out of loving what I did; raised on the idea that if you were lucky enough to have the opportunity to choose what career you would do for the rest of your life, it should be something that made you happy to wake up every morning. That was the kind of upbringing I received. So the reverse idea, the thought I’d started to view working as a chore rather than something I enjoyed, made me feel as though I’d lost my way. I realize I was spoiled from the beginning, but now, what was I doing with the potential, the possibilities? Merely squandering them. With that one sentence, I’d revealed more than I had planned, to him and to myself. It was unsettling to realize I didn’t know myself at all.

My friends always assumed that because I had a career plan, I knew where I was going. I was determined, and even disciplined, in their eyes. However, they neglected to notice I was just as confused as they were. Maybe it stemmed from my lack of sharing doubts with them. Maybe I found it more comfortable to seem like I knew. That’s at least until last summer, until I admitted I was lost, that I didn’t know anymore, both to them and to myself. As I sat there, trying to answer all of his questions, I finally relinquished:

The truth is, I don’t know.

Then he looked at me relieved and said: “That’s a good thing”.

I used to care about knowing, used to think I had to. But answers… They change. Cling hard and long enough, sometimes you convince yourself that the world is not in movement, that everything can stay the same, that you know who you are, what you want, where you are going. But it’s a hoax, isn’t? Self-delusion. A false sense of security.

So here it is: I know I want to be a doctor. And a professor. And a writer. And all the things I’ve set my mind to. But I’ve changed. My reasons too.

I have no answers. That’s the honest truth. And it doesn’t matter. Not anymore, not right now. I’m not seeking for them, I’m not seeking to know. I’m trying to live and tie some loose ends; I’m trying to find my truth by not searching for it.

I’m done searching. I’m done answering. I’m done trying to find out.

Maybe that’s not good enough for [X… University], but at the moment, it’s good enough for me. It’s not a lack of ambition, nor a lack of dedication. If it’s not good enough for [X… University], in a way it’s a shame. All these experiences, from my successes to my failings, my recent wandering and introspecting has made me the person I am; a person with perspective and insight, with a head on her shoulder, and a good heart. But I am done stressing over things. I’m done trying to fit a box, trying to make myself into someone that I’m not. I’m done trying to suppress my voice, done trying to please, done being a wallflower. I’m done justifying my decisions and my thoughts to anyone other than myself. And while I don’t know who I am, I’m in the process of finding out. In the meantime, I’m living.

Then he looked at me relieved and said: “That’s a good thing”.

Suddenly, I realized, that a lack of answers means endless possibilities.

4 thoughts on “Making Peace With Angst

  1. I’ll let you into a secret That Career Girl and Lyla…it’s not an age thing! Some people never stop feeling this way. This can lead to Lyla’s conclusion that the world is all the more her oyster for lack of rigid answers, but it can also lead to drifting and suddenly finding that you are 47 with nothing that you are proud of behind you.

    Either way, I believe the seedling of what you said Lyla contains something of the answer. We must stop beating ourselves up for everything. Being too successful, not being successful enough, knowing our path, not knowing our path. I would suggest know what you love and head there, but don’t forget to enjoy diversions and wake up and be happy in the moment.

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