“What if we could all meet our spouses at 22 ½ years old?”
I remember asking this question in the midst of confusion. Gosh, how much easier it would be if everyone could just know when! We could be stressfree about marriage, knowing it would come to us at an exact time. More so- because every person’s time would be the same, there would be no identity struggles because of comparison. Every person would be the same.
After pondering for a minute, I decided this everyone-has-the-same-experience idea is terrible. The surprise, mystery, and uncertainty of finding our spouses is special. If we all had the exact same timeline, lives would be stripped of some of the most glorious moments. Maybe some would prefer love to be more predictable, but I think most of us wouldn’t. People finding their spouses at different times, under different circumstances, adds to the beauty of life.
But what about with careers?
Interestingly enough, society has decided everyone should decide their careers at 22 ½. (At their college graduation). This same society that we have banned from deciding our love timeline, is pressuring us into a permanent career. And, for some reason, we accept it! We accept society’s timeline for career-choice, often settling with jobs we hate.
Some of my friends have known for years what they want to do- be a teacher, work in business, go to med school. Most, however, have no idea. They choose a job because they need money. Then they settle into this career because they now have experience in the field.
I believe that careers have the potential to be an extension of us. They flow from our inner being in order to push forward our passions into the outer world. While we may not always have our dream job, I firmly believe we should aim to avoid settling in our careers. We can still be reliable people, who can stick to jobs. But we can also put ourselves in fields that interest us, so our job experiences ignite more of our passions.
Mostly, we can avoid settling.
With marriage, we get this. Some people marry at 18, others at 38. We wait until something clicks within us, when we find ourselves rested and purposeful in our choice. Yet with careers, we have let the societal pressures carry us to careers we hate. We then justify being in these careers because we do need to make money.
But in a country where we can make money in so many unique ways, I want to encourage all of us to yes- take the job. We DO need jobs. But please don’t take the career you hate. Wait until something clicks within you. We can move forward and take jobs that interest us, and BE OK if it isn’t our forty-year-long career.
I believe YOU have the power and opportunity to change the world for the better. The gifts and interests you have been given are not given to you to tease you. I believe God knew exactly what He was doing when He put something in your heart.
The fact that we have rejected the idea of everyone getting married at 22 ½, yet have accepted the notion of everyone picking their career at 22 ½, shows me that we have decided careers are not spiritual…or even personal. We have taken out the potential wonder and we have decided that the uncertainty is too scary with careers. We have let money control our decisions in what we put a whole 40 hours per week into.
There will be plenty of pressures to encourage settling into a career, but I want to encourage you. I want to remind you that we really do only live once. There is no reason to fear, or quit your job right after reading this. But I would love if we all (especially those of us around the age of 22 ½ ) consider being less anxious about choosing a career, and decide to enjoy the wonder and mystery in the searching.
So, maybe it is OK that we all do not know what we want to do with our lives at 22 ½. Maybe this actually makes life more wonderful, but only if we avoid the pressure from society. Again, we DO need jobs. I don’t believe it is advisable to sit in unemployment while jobs are available. But…while we may have to get jobs that do not suit us perfectly, lets not give up on our passions. Lets not settle because it’s easy and predictable. And lets feel no shame in saying, “I don’t quite know what I want to do with my life right now, but I am determined to follow my passions.” We should know the bravery in chasing after our dreams. There IS something within us that can change the world in some fashion.
Most of all, lets pray. We can pray to see our passions clearly, yet to also enjoy the journey (however uncertain it is).
So, what is the next Godly step when we don’t know what career you want? I don’t think it’s stressful. I think it’s simply: -avoid being anxious -avoid settling -look for jobs that ignite your passions -pray for God to show you your gifts and passions -and rejoice that every single person doesn’t know their careers at 22 ½.
Be at ease. It will all be ok. Don’t lose hope. Dream big.
Posted for Grafted Magazine