Megapige, you are so sweet. You’re asking this, and I so appreciate your trust in me, but I have to admit to you from the start that I won’t be able to answer your question. At 29, I am undeniably “grown up.” But I’m still grappling with this question, and I fully expect (even hope!) to be doing so for the rest of my life.
The best I can do is share a couple things that have helped me. Do you have a minute?
You know how people usually say “Just do what you love”? They’re right. You should do what you love; you should love what and whom you love. You should dedicate yourself to those things and people with your whole heart. This is a tricky business, Megapige, because the price of love is vulnerability. Those things and people will sometimes hurt or disappoint or even abandon you, and there will be days when your heart feels like shattered shrapnel inside your chest, and you will wonder (as I have wondered) if the cost is too high.
In fact, the cost is a bargain.
You have to love these things, because otherwise you’ll become a ghost in your own life. (Believe me, I know.) You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to us, because the world is in desperate need of more fully alive people.
And yet: If it’s so simple, if we all just need to do what we love, why does it feel so hard?
Because we love a lot of different things.
And in saying “yes” to one life, it can feel like we’re saying “no” to all others. That’s true, but only partly. Because the strangest and most miraculous things can happen, Megapige! It’s hard to explain, because for every person, the path is different and unpredictable. (That’s the wonderful thing. That’s also the terrible thing.) But please let me assure you that if you are kind and industrious and useful and grateful, the horizon line ahead of you will expand in ways that are unimaginable right now. Doors will appear and somehow you’ll be the one with the key that fits perfectly. I went to film school, and I now make my living writing novels.
Did I plan that? No. Am I grateful? God, yes.
If you can combine what you love with somehow helping other people, go after that with everything you’ve got. Pay your bills on time. Try to volunteer. Stay in touch with friends. If you struggle with depression or anxiety (like I do), know that seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness; it is an act of courage. FLOSS! Remember that every time you get into the driver’s seat of a car, you are the pilot of a two-ton missile that uses the same physical space as people you and I love. And remember, too, that every single person you know is probably going through some version of the confusion or fear you’re experiencing. As Steve Jobs said, you have to live looking forward and following your intuition, and you’ll only be able to connect the dots looking back.
Good luck, Megapige. Be kind to yourself. And DFTBA.
An old (old!) Wall of Text post I still like pretty well.