What should I do with my life?
[in which Dear Didi attempts to answer her first query]
I’m almost 30 and I am not sure what I should be doing with my life. I used to be a chef and then I worked on a boat. I became an architect but I’m not so sure that’s what I should be doing. Got any advice for a confused gal? What should I do with my life?
— Life Confused
Dear Life Confused,
Ah, the life question. It seems so simple, everyone must be giving you their own answer. But here’s the problem my dear, it is their own answer that they are giving you, not yours.
You shouldn’t listen to anyone but yourself (and here I am giving you advice and telling you not to listen to it).
Your central questions implies a certain efficacy — that it is you who are the central figure in your life (humor me for a little longer). Many places around the world are without the luxury of this absurdly large and seemingly simple question. That is not to further confuse you, but it is only to offer that perhaps a perspective shift is needed. Isn’t this a wonderful experience to have so many options?!
You could follow a religion and then at least you’ll know what to do five times a day, or every Sunday. But these days, religion doesn’t always offer more than some guidelines to follow and a rough structure to your day. Just as a little visioning exercise, if you could create your own religion, what would it include?
Mine would involve going to the beach at least once a month. My guess is that yours would involve some kind of solitude. You’ve worked in kitchens and on boats. Have you had the chance to get outta town lately and hear your heart beat without any distractions?
Many of the world religions advocate a period of solitude or silence, whether or not you call it prayer, meditation or something else entirely. A moment of inward examination. Instead of asking me and everyone else around you, be still and quiet long enough to feel what it is you want to do. It doesn’t have to be big. Take it one step at a time. If all you want to do is walk, start there.
One summer, while visiting my father, we got into one of our strange arguments about him wanting me to iron my clothes and me not caring and then him wanting me to comb my hair when I didn’t give a flying fuck. Long story short, we got in a fight and I needed to clear my head. I needed physical space. I needed to get the fuck outta town.
Where did I go? Hungary. But it doesn’t really matter where I went. I needed to exert my independence, to hear myself think, to know I could do it — and I did.
I sat alone next to the river and I realized I wasn’t having that much fun. I was there for about 24 hours and then I went home. Sometimes a ten-hour train ride is really all you need to clear your head (though if you’ve got a lot going on in that noggin of yours, I suppose you might need more).
Life isn’t the problem, the question is. There are no shoulds. You shouldn’t listen to anyone. Instead, if I was one of those doctors who prescribe books, I would prescribe for you a (re?)reading of The Prophet and The Alchemist and a large does of solitude to quiet your mind long enough to listen to yourself.
Life Confused, You are so much stronger than you think you are. If nothing else, take comfort in the fact that we’re all just playing around with this silly game called life.