As I've written in previous posts, I used to be an actress. I grew up an actress... I got my first agent around the age of 5, and left my last agent at 25. I was always going to be an actress. That was my identity. I never even considered anything else. So when I stopped pursuing an acting career, I had an identity crisis. I had no idea what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. I had never explored any other option.
Cut to now. I am frustrated. I have spent the past nine years doing many things, and feeling like I haven't stuck with one because I like them all, and can't decide! And this smorgasboard of things I do have made it hard to build any one foundational business; I can't get myself to just choose one. This is pretty much how it's gone over the past nine years: Reiki, yes! Love it! Homeopathy and natural health, yes! Let me study that, too! Spiritual counseling, yes! Let me go deep in study so that I can bring light to the world! Writing, yes, my favorite... writing about dating and relationships, you say? OK!... Oh cool, fitness, yes! Love it! Let me become a trainer! You get where I'm going with this. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of these things, and I believe each of these things truly helps people. And I have learned so much and grown with each thing as well. But... Where has it gotten me, really? Why can't I just choose one, darn it, and focus on building it so I can make a living already?
I had a complete breakdown in yoga class the other night (as often happens in that damn pigeon pose). The class was being taught by the studio's owner, who has become quite a guru in his own right... And I remembered taking classes with him 10 years ago at bad time slots with no people in them, in someone else's studio when he was first starting out. And look at him now: his own studio, many followers. He had stayed the course. He had become an expert in his field. WHY CAN'T I DO THAT!? What's wrong with me? If I had stayed the course with any of those things I mentioned previously, perhaps my life would be a whole different ballgame now and I would be stable and on a specific path!
I was unloading all of this on a friend when she looked at me and said, "You just don't know what you want to be when you grow up." Whoa. Knocked the wind out of me. I know it sounds so simple, but it's not anything I ever thought of... because I am a grown-up, so I'm supposed to already be doing what grown-ups do. I had invested 20 years in a different path, and when I left it, I was a grown-up, but one starting from scratch. Many people explore what they want to be in college... Many people spend all of their 20s trying out different paths or careers, or already putting in the time and effort to build their career. But I didn't do that then. I missed out on all that, and started from scratch when most people are already well on their way. And where has that put me? Feeling behind everyone -- my friends with their VP and executive positions that they've worked hard for over the past 10-plus years, my friends with thriving therapy practices, with teaching jobs they love... leaving me feeling kinda like a loser sometimes.
But now I realize I had a late start, and have spent my time since then exploring and studying many different things, deciding what I want to put my focus and attention on becoming when I "grow up." This realization honestly gives me a lightness as I go forward in my life being open to seeing what it is I want to do; maybe it's all of these things I have learned somehow combined together. Maybe it's deciding to become an expert in one of them. Or maybe it's something completely different. I don't know. And that's ok. Because I'm taking the pro-active steps in figuring it out.
I'm sharing this because I know other people out there feel similarly... Maybe you feel like you are floundering from one thing to another, maybe you feel the pressure of society or your parents or your spouse to just pick a path already and stay on it even if you hate it. Maybe you (like me) have tried many things, but just don't know exactly what you want to do. And I'm here to say, that's ok. Explore. We have our whole lives to discover what we want to be when we grow up... or maybe we will never decide what we want to be when we grow up because the growing up is just in the journey (I like that one best).
For more by Holly Sidell, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.