09/11/2013 04:38 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

On 'Figuring It Out'

Everyone has that moment in their life when they look around, take a moment to reflect on whatever is happening around them, whatever their peers are doing, whatever they should be doing, and think: Wow. I really missed something.

It's like everyone took some class on what you're "supposed" to do and how to "figure things out," and you slept in or skipped that day. Everyone has the plan, the seamless transition, and you stand there like the kid picked last for the PE team, wondering and grasping and trying to figure out how to piece things together.

Then, maybe a little later, you piece some things together with conviction no stronger than Elmer's Glue, and will it to work because it is supposed to work and figuring it out is what you should be doing. So you check the boxes and sign the lease and force a smile and call it a day.

Then, maybe a little later after that, you flip out and remember that "should" doesn't mean "will" and "decent" doesn't mean "right." Suddenly, you're at the crossroads where "I am crazy, what's wrong with me?" turns into "Eh, I'm really no crazier than normal."

So what do you do when everyone else is boarding the ride and you haven't even gotten a ticket? When the conveyor belt keeps moving and you can't quite bring yourself to hop in? You are the one standing at the edge of the diving board, holding up the line when everyone else is ready jump.

But you keep thinking: What am I jumping into? You wonder if you're the only one who paused long enough to ask the question. The hard question. The harder question than "Should I do it?" is "Do I want to do it?"

Since I remain resolute in my inability to take my own advice, here's what I would tell you, if you're listening: Get off the diving board. Throw the ticket to the ride away. Toss the plan. Walk away.

Yes, that is uncomfortable. Painfully so. It's awkward. And people don't get it. Literally. Do Not. Comprehend. Your explanations are worthless, and to some, you will always be a failure. To others, you'll be a hero. To yourself, I think aiming for just being happy sounds pretty good.

You didn't miss anything. The right jump will be terrifying and exhilarating and probably worthy of many tears and hours of stress (though inarguably not as many as you will waste on it), but it will not feel like a Death Drop.

The "figuring it out" is another manufactured product that the conveyor belt produces. There are periods of life where no one knows what they are doing, including you. I remain firm in the belief that there isn't a magic point where life is suddenly figured. If there is, congrats to all who have found it.

It's a progression. Don't buy the idea that you're behind or lost or don't know who you are. You do. You can be confused, conflicted, and worried. You can panic. You can be neurotic. You probably will be.

But don't let them convince you that you missed something. You're where you should be. If you're not, that's the direction you're going. One foot in front of the other. Eyes up, heart and head engaged. Quit figuring. Keep going.

Your map is your own.

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