I have no idea what I’m doing (and you probably don’t either)

Trail through the mist: no idea where I am or where I'm going
Nope, I have no idea where I am or where I’m going.

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.

Weevil, maybe
Check out the creepy alien beetle. I bet this one’s headed back to the mothership.

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.

Bonfire: I have no idea what I'm doing.
Burn the rules!

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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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

18 thoughts on “I have no idea what I’m doing (and you probably don’t either)”

  1. Great post. Fake it until you make it!

    Also, I like to think that you only heard about coffee recently; you’re starting on one cup a day, aiming for a glorious 3 to 5 cups-a-day regime, or more. The alternative–the idea where you are actually reducing caffeine intake–makes me shudder. 🙂

    1. Thank you.

      You’re absolutely right. I’ve been living in the jungle for the past mumble-cough years, and I just discovered coffee. It seems to be a pillar of civilisation, and so I’m training myself to drink as much as the pros. Next week I’ll increase to two cups, then three…

  2. March on, Explorer. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. As long as you don’t know, the whole wide world is full of possibility. Have fun on the adventure. 🙂

  3. I gave up caffeine cold turkey once. I thought I was dying for about a week. I was gifted a fancy expresso machine thing last year. It’s awesome. I still go weeks without drinking coffee though.

  4. A.S.A., you somehow manage a new and lovely post each time. Not only do I not know where I’m going, when I blog (supposedly, weekly) I often have no idea what I’ll offer the morning I’m supposed to write…something.

    I don’t know how you do it. Maybe it’s the coffee.

    1. Thank you. 🙂 I often don’t know what I’m going to say until I sit down, but I know I’m going to do it twice a week, and somehow it happens. I enjoy your posts very much. The only problem is that I don’t know how to sign up to get an email when you post.

      1. A.S.A., thanks for the nice words. I know, my website is just terrible. I like it when people visit — and thank goodness you say hello, now and again — but I know how to do NOTHING. Well, I can format books and design book covers, which isn’t exactly nothing, but I’m awful at the social media thing. The only time I send out emails via MailChimp is when I have a new story coming out. The people on my mailing list are usually surprised when I pop up in their in-box.

        I keep hoping my partner will take over and fix things. Instead, he watches football and eats the worst candies in the world. Good thing he’s fairly wonderful in other aspects of life.

        1. Man, I wish I could format books and design covers! 🙂

          So you already have MailChimp. That’s a great start. I’m guessing you’re not on WordPress? I used these instructions to use RSS (no idea what that is, but I didn’t need one) to automatically send an email each time I post: http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-add-email-subscriptions-for-your-wordpress-blog/ but I’m not sure how well they adapt to other platforms. Let me know if I can help with anything.

  5. Yay, I’m glad your site is up and running again! I love this post, I can totally relate. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I always thought that by the time I’m pushing forty I’ll definitely have everything figured out, but nope. Still ambling in the woods without a compass. Well, at least there’s Google. 😀

    1. I’m glad my site is running again too, though I have a few new grey hairs to show for it.

      I thought when I was “grown up” I’d know everything. Ha! I’m so glad I live in the age of Google – otherwise I’d have to talk to librarians, and we all know librarians are scary.

  6. I’m definitely in the wandering around confused crowd. I never quite know how to get what I want. Still, I know there are plenty of people out there who have given up on dreams because they figured a particular career path (or family path) was the “right” way to go. I’m getting to where so many of the grown-ups who always seemed like they had it together are retiring and going off to do what they “really” wanted, as if that’s the reward for pretending well all those years.

    1. And that’s the cool thing – it’s never too late to decide what you thought you wanted involves too many ties and uncomfortable shoes, and to pack up and do something involving a lot more pajamas and kittens. I like what I do, but sometimes I wonder if i wouldn’t like something else a whole lot more.

  7. I like to wander… But I’d also like an OS map in my back pocket in case if catastrophic lostness. Best way to be surprised is to walk without direction, but it’s reassuring to have a signpost from time to time. Even if you have a map, you don’t need to follow it. 😉

    1. That’s a great philosophy. A map shows you what’s there, it doesn’t tell you where you have to go.

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