I am 21 years old and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
Everyone asks that to ten-year old’s, and they’re all certain of their paths.
“I want to be an astronaut.”
“I want to be a football player.”
“I want to be a doctor.”
They have a detailed plan for how they want their lives to go; where they’ll be and how they’ll get there, and we don’t have to heart to tell them otherwise. Sometimes I wonder if, given the chance to talk to my ten-year-old self, what I would say to her, and what she would say to me.
How would I explain to her that, 11 years later, I still don’t know what I want to be?
How would I explain to her that I don’t even know if I am in the right place, or moving in the right direction? Sometimes, I don’t even feel like I am moving in any direction.
We always hear the affirmation “you are exactly where you are meant to be,” but how am I meant to be in such a seemingly dark place?
How would I explain to her that, not only did her plan not unfold the way she thought it would, but that she no longer has a plan?
I would say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that my life, our life, didn’t turn out as planned. I am sorry for letting her down. I am sorry for not becoming all she wanted to, for not finding her place in the world the way she thought she would. I am sorry for not trying harder, for not fighting more for the life she deserved.
Would she be disappointed in me? Would she see how hard I am trying?
I am trying. I promise I am trying each and every day to find my place in this world. I want more than anything to know what I want to be when I grow up. I thought I would be by now; grown up that is. I thought I would have it more together, but I feel more lost than ever. I am grasping each day at shreds of paper I thought could be woven together to form a road map, but apparently the real world doesn’t come with one of those.
Oh, part of me wishes it does.
Part of me wishes so badly for it to be easy.
I wish I could just wake up with a plan and have it all laid out for me.
Part of me wishes there would be no road bumps, no doubting, no questions or failures. I’ve had enough failures and starting over to last a lifetime. But the other part, the part that holds onto the hope each day that I am on the right path, knows that without those failures, I wouldn’t be who I was today.
That girl grew up to have her heart broken by many people and many circumstances, but it filled her heart with love, her head with knowledge, and her soul with wisdom. And yes, she will likely fail more than she can count. And yes, she will likely feel lost without a glimmer of light, but that will be her becoming.
That plan she had won’t fit her for much longer, but that is perfectly okay. We outgrow our plans like we outgrow our shoes; and forcing them to fit because we like them and we are comfortable in them only hurts us more. It only keeps us stuck; keeps us from growing.
That is the hope I would like to leave her with. Not the hope that she will always know she is on the right path, or that there would even be a path to follow; but the hope that it all has a purpose. It all builds her into the woman she is meant to be.
If she continues to honour herself and learn, she will end up somewhere. I can’t promise that it’ll be where she is meant to be, because can we ever truly know that? But I can promise that where she is will have purpose if she allows herself to live in it. If she allows herself to be, fully and completely, without looking around the corner in an attempt to control what’s coming.
That’s the hope I would leave her with. Her plans will never be enough, but her purpose will.