On Learning to Love the Unknown

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I recently received this email from a lovely reader called Michelle. I'm sharing my response here, because it's so important to know that you're not alone in your confusion -- no matter who you are, how old you are, or what you're struggling with.  


Hey Bianca! I’ve been reading your blog all day and I love it, I’m 19 and I’m still deciding what I want to do for living and it’s driving me crazy, any advice on how not to stress? Thank u ♥

When my last long-term relationship ended, I was devastated. I didn’t know how I would survive without the sense of security I’d had for so long. But then, a few months later, it hit me: I’d never had any security to begin with.

 

Damn.

 

You may be wondering what a relationship ending has to do with your career starting, but, actually, it’s more relevant than you think. Because, whether it’s a relationship, a career path, a life plan or otherwise, the sentiment remains the same: everything is a false sense of security.

 

Now, I know that may sound intimidating or disheartening, but actually it’s the opposite. Because, if you think about it, none of us have any security in any area of our lives. Ever. Not really. 

Even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, everything can change in, like, a second. The secret is to learn to feel liberated and not petrified by that. 

The fact is: you could die tomorrow or live until 110. You could come into some serious money. You could contract a serious illness. You could meet the love of your life, unexpectedly, and run off to Japan. You could have a spiritual awakening and become a monk. Ok, unlikely, but possible. Anything is possible. 

 

None of us have the answers even when we think we do. In fact, thinking you have the answers is dangerous. 

 

We can all plan and plan and plan, but the fact is “life happens while you’re busy making other plans”. Call it the universe, call it your god, call it whatever you so wish… what’s meant for you won’t pass you. I promise. 

 

The first step is to have faith and know that everyone you’ve ever admired has been exactly where you are — at 19, at 38, at 54.

The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
— The genius that is Mary Schmich

The second step is to accept you don’t have the answers and move forward anyway. 

 

So, plan the baby steps. Think about what gets your attention and explore it further. Maybe you find yourself reading about health hacks when you should be studying (if so, take a nutrition class and start blogging about your findings!). Maybe you're a serious celebrity conspiracy theorist (if so, have you considered a career as a publicist?). Niche, but you see my point, right? 

 

Apply for your first jobs based on how much opportunity there is to learn. Look for industries with growth potential. Decide where you’re going to work based on the people and how much you can learn from them, and you can’t go wrong. I promise.

 

The days of having a job for life are dead (thank GOD)!

You will have many careers in your lifetime, but only one life. Spend it being kind to yourself, girl. Embrace the unknown. Allow all of the possibilities to excite, not stress you. 

From someone further down the road, I want you to know that this career journey is a crazy, educational, sometimes emotional, sometimes exhilarating journey, and you are going to learn SO! MUCH! About yourself and the world around you. 

 

Be excited. Hell, I’m excited for you because this stuff is Formative with a capital f.

 

You can always start over. You can always get a new job. You can always try something new. Just try

 

Most people spend so much time worrying about the future, they never allow themselves to see all of the possibility that lies before them. Don’t let that happen to you.

 

Besides, wouldn’t life be boring if we knew exactly what was going to happen next? 

 

Learn to love the unknown. It’s what keeps things interesting.

 

Bianca Bass