Today is day three of my new one-coffee-a-day regime, which seems like a great time to point out that I have no idea what I’m doing. (Don’t ask how the two are related. They’re related because they’re both happening today.)
Doing in what?
Doing in anything. Doing in life.
What’s more, I suspect this is quite common. Normal, even.
When I was a kid I wondered how adults ever learned everything they needed to know to get through life. How do you know how to get the power working? Who to call when the car starts shuddering and smoking? Where those beetles are going when they crawl through the fence?
As I got older I realised there were many answers.
You pay someone whose job it is to know.
You look it up in the Yellow Pages. (Which isn’t nearly as helpful as Google, which I guess is why Google is winning.)
Or you make it up.
I always wondered how they knew about beetletopia.
And then there are all those questions you never find answers to. How do I get a job I enjoy? Are fats good or bad? What should I do with my life? Where did I put the car keys?
So you stumble along, you guess, and you hope no one notices that you have no idea what you’re doing.
Every day you’re surrounded by people who look as if they have everything together. They seem to have all the answers, and they’d share them with you if you found the courage to ask.
Maybe some of them do have the answers, but they’re probably androids inserted into the population to make the rest of us feel bad. I’m guessing normal people don’t have the answers.
Sometimes I think the whole human race is wandering around like trampers in the mist. We lost our compass somewhere in the grass, the map blew away, and there are no trails. Occasionally we happen across each other, at which point we straighten our backs and stride forwards purposefully, but it’s all a sham. As soon as the other person is out of sight we’re back to wandering aimlessly, hoping to happen across a warm fire and a well-stocked bar.
You’d think the situation would get better as you learned more. Nope. You wake up one day an “expert” in your field–maybe it comes with a certificate, maybe it doesn’t–and realise you’re still making it all up.
Welcome to imposter syndrome. I’ll take two, thanks.
Sometimes I wonder if part of my problem is that all my real life friends are either much older than me or much younger. (You might recall I have two friends, so obviously what I mean is that one is a lot older and one is a lot younger.)
The older friend has had so much more practice at pretending to know everything, and the younger friend isn’t expected to know everything yet. (If you’re wondering, the age you’re expected to know everything is 22. Scary, right?)
They both make me feel out of my depth.
I can see myself reaching 80 (assuming I don’t totter in front of a bus first), looking around and thinking, “Okay, so I faked my way through that whole adulthood thing. What a relief. Now I can just fake senility and eat jelly.”
After I spend too long mulling over these thoughts I start to turn them around. What if we did know how to live life? What if we got a manual when we reached the magical age of 22 and it told us everything we were supposed to do to live properly?
I can see the book-burning parties now. Who are they to tell me how to live my life? There is no right way and things are better like this.
Those who tried to follow the rules would be mocked for not thinking for themselves. It would be like high school all over again.
After all this, you’d think I had a point. I don’t. Sorry to disappoint.
Except maybe: It’s okay to have no idea what you should be doing. It’s your life to enjoy discovering and screwing up in whichever way you see fit. (That is, I hope it’s okay or I’m in real trouble.)
March on, explorer!
Do you wish you had a manual or do you prefer wandering without a map? Or are you one of the androids who actually has the answers?
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