I have so many memories of the person I wanted to be when I finished my studies. Idealisations, that’s what they were. Some of those have come to life over time, others I’m still working on – but barely any of those has remained unchanged.
I used to think that was a problem. That getting my dream job was something that I should do sooner rather than later, lest I wasted too much time and life would slip away from my fingers. To an extent, that may be true.
I’m a young professional who’s just entered his late twenties, with too many dreams and ambitions for a town that I’ve only started calling my own in the past few years. Recently I’ve come to realise that things take time. Finding your dream job takes time. I know I still have plenty of that; or at least so I hope.
It’s okay if you haven’t found your true call yet. It’s okay if you’re not the person you wanted to be when you were a teenager. It’s okay if you’ve changed and your ambitions have gone through the same process as a consequence. I know that creativity will always be a part of my life, just as it will be a part of yours. That’s enough to stir all of us in the right direction.
No Longer Home
One reason why I love playing indie video games is the depth of their narrative and how mature some of those stories can be. I long for a game that can leave a mark on me and keep me thinking for days. Over the weekend, I found one entirely by accident.
It’s called No Longer Home, published by indie game publisher Fellow Traveller. I invite you to check it out, whether you like video games or not. It’s often on sale for less than £10,00 and worth every penny. It is the story of two fellow students, a couple, who live together in a shared accommodation at the very end of their university studies. They are both dealing with an existential and identity crisis, a dread caused by other people’s expectations and their own combined. In short, lingering depression, alienation and a sense of constant uncertainty. Pressure. The same we’ve all felt at some point in our youth.
Image credit: Epic Games Store
Together, the two are able to face their mental health issues – but that’s beyond the point of this piece. The point is that it got me thinking about a number of things. The expectations we set for ourselves – are they truly ours, or do they come from other people? What about the social pressure to constantly perform and find our place in life? What about exiting high school with the illusion that we know exactly what we will do for the rest of our lives?
And then, if you drop out of a course or decide to change careers, there comes the shame and uncertainty, because you don’t want to be seen as fragile. You don’t want to be seen as weak or, worse, lacking confidence. Who’s going to hire someone who jumps around so much? Who’s going to want a professional who can’t commit to one course of career and stick with it?
Thankfully, things are starting to change. As the conversation around mental health becomes more mainstream, showing fragility means strength, transparency means humanity, honesty is not only accepted, but sought after. Still, it will be a long time before we get rid of these misconceptions and prejudices entirely. Meanwhile, most of us are left to deal with the lingering shadows of a toxic past.
As a multi-potential creative, I’ve felt the weight of all that for a long time. The time pressure. The need to find my own path as soon as possible. I would create websites, open freelance profiles here and there, write stories and read books and complete courses while I was stuck in a job I didn’t like. It was a form of escapism. It was a way to manifest my concern for the time pressure that I was constantly feeling on my shoulders.
Having a partner that supports you can help with that. You will have somebody next to you to remind you that there is plenty of time to do everything you want to do. No one is biting at your ankles. No one says there’s a deadline on happiness. We are used to thinking that past our twenties everything becomes more stale and difficult, but does it have to be?
I bet you can’t help but feel that the biological clock is ticking, and that your wisdom is showing up much earlier than you would like it to. You can’t help but feel the pressure of all these opportunities, comparing yourself to others who made it before you. That is the worst thing you can do; not realising there is only one ‘you’, and that your path is uniquely yours. Where others have spent years chasing one position in their career, you may spend months. Where you may spend months, others may spend decades. Just like there is no deadline on happiness, there is no deadline on finding your true call.
There is always time.
Personally, I want to have a book published by the time I’m 30; what is going to happen if I don’t?
Let me tell you what is going to happen: absolutely nothing. You can publish that book at 31 or 32. You can take some more time to improve that skill you love so much. No one is really chasing you, and if the problem is paying the bills, you will always find a way to do so while chasing your other dreams.
Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe your ambition is starting to raise its voice, because it’s taking too long. As humans, we are too used to short-term achievements and instant gratifications, but these things take time; and it’s okay. Maybe you’re not the person you thought you would be at this point, and who cares? None of that matters. Treasure your free time and use it the way you think it would be used best. Do the things you enjoy the most without keeping an eye constantly on the clock or the calendar. Chase your dreams with no anxiety or fear of missing out.
Nothing good ever comes to being exceedingly loyal to your ambitions. We’ve talked about this just recently in a piece that was entirely focused on ambition itself. There is always time to find your true call. There is always time to be your true self.
Your true self; that is the only thing you should ever be loyal to.