February 12, 2019

How to Find Magic in the Midst of the Frustrating, Scary as All Sh*t Years of our 20s.

Some days I feel like everything is right in the world.

Some days I just want to sit in bed and eat melted cheese on pasta.

Some days I am productive and excited about my current profession. Some days I apply for jobs I’m not at all interested in, just to feel like I’m making changes. Some days I entertain thoughts of packing a bag and moving to the other side of the world. Some days I am too emotional about the state the world is in to talk to a single soul.

Most days I question who I am and what the hell I’m supposed to be doing with my existence.

The truth is, I’m 26 and I have absolutely no f*cking clue what I’m doing with my life—and for some reason I don’t think I’m the only one.

I was having a moment on the phone with my best friend last week. It had been one of those days I refer to as “existential crisis days,” and she told me to stop being so dramatic for 10 seconds and listen. She reminded me that your 20s should be a decade for simply “collecting eggs.” And this notion has been playing in my mind over and over since I hung up the phone.

I am in a place that many 20-somethings (and 30 and 40 and 50-somethings, for that matter) seem to find themselves in: confused, uncertain, confident on the outside, seemingly sure of ourselves, frozen with choice, frozen with lack of choice, stuck in jobs we thought we wanted to do and were right for us, in our dream jobs and yet still feeling like there is something else we should be doing. We are all of these things and more, and each of us is trying to work it out as much as the next person is.

I was only five years old when I was first asked the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My first grade teacher wasn’t impressed with my dream career of being a reindeer, or my second choice of a professional fairy bread maker. I can still recall her telling me these weren’t “real jobs,” and the smile she gave me made me feel like I’d said something not worth taking seriously—crushing my dreams of being Santa’s right-hand deer.

Reflecting back on this as an adult (who would still like to be a reindeer some day), I struggle to understand how putting this kind of pressure on a five-year-old is a fair thing to do. When was it decided amongst the adult community that a child’s job was to grow up, instead of simply being a child? These are some of the most precious years of our lives, and if you didn’t eat your fair share of glue, then you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.

Glue-eating aside, what we want to be when we “grow up” (and really, who decides when that happens? I didn’t get boobs until after high school) shouldn’t be the question we are asking five-years-olds.

The question, rather, should be who do you want to be? If I’d been asked that question back in primary school, I’m sure I still would have responded with enthusiasm for the Rudolph plan. However, I would have had more room to respond with things like adventurous, loyal, kind, loving.

I’ve come to understand that this question, in much the same way it is when we are five, should be the question we ask ourselves as we proceed to turn the pages of our lives.

It’s an intriguing time, this coming-of-age phenomenon that takes place across the globe for those of us lucky enough to make it through to our 20s. It’s frustrating, stirring, and scary as all sh*t—and nothing, no matter what you are taught in your adolescence, can prepare you for your own transition into the vast, immense, and overwhelming world in which we live.

We fill our backpacks with the things we think we need based on the small knowledge we have about where we’re going. We put on our most comfy socks, tie our laces, take a breath, and stand tall. We fill our water bottles, put on our hats and sunscreen, check we’ve packed a snack for the road, and finally take our first step into uncharted territory.

What we don’t understand yet is that it doesn’t matter what we have in our pack, how comfy our socks, are or what level of SPF our sunscreen is—if we focus on the end goal of reaching our “future” so we can finally “do,” we forget who want to be upon arrival.

What if we, just for a moment, took the pressure off ourselves? What if we allowed ourselves a moment to breathe? What if we gave ourselves time to appreciate the exact moment we are in? What if we shed the idea that we need to answer to anyone’s idea of our life and what it should look like, except our own?

What if we simply focused on collecting eggs?

I may not know what I’m doing with my life, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is completely fine. What I do know is that if I focus on collecting experiences and relationships and moments and filling my basket with as many eggs as it can hold, I’ll have a clearer idea of who I am and who I want to be in this magnificent biosphere we call home.

There is something magical that comes with knowing yourself in this way. The uncertainty, the pressure, the expectations seem to fade in the knowledge and grounding of accepting and stepping into all of who you are.

Because the thing is, when we know who we want to be, it suddenly makes it easier to find clarity in what to do.

We are privileged to a unique experience as humans. This experience should be honoured as just that—an experience. Not an end goal or some preconceived idea melded into our brains from a society that wants us to focus on doing rather than being.

If we shift our focus to collecting as many eggs as possible, we will find ourselves filling our backpacks with exactly the right things we need to take us through this exciting, head-spinning, invigorating experience of life.

Collecting eggs is a tantalizing thought to entertain, and an even more appealing one to start living by.

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