I recently saw a big flaw in my attitude towards big life decisions. Once again.
I used to think that the jobs I had were the defining parts of my life in which I should find the reason for being. And I just didn’t get why I wasn’t happy, why none of them gave me full satisfaction and the feeling of living the complete life I felt I could have. Only after a long search, I started seeing that even though our profession is the go-to response to the identity questions, that’s not really a good answer. Because saying “I’m a marketer” is a huge understatement of who and what you are.
And that’s not to say that we shouldn’t work hard whatever we do. Because we should. But at the same time, our generation has the most freedom to do whatever the fuck we want at any given moment. And we should use this freedom. At least till we turn into family people and get limited by commitments and responsibilities to the point where we can’t just flip everything off and try something radically new.
At the same time, I’m all for taking on responsibilities in general. But only the ones that make you more whole and happy in return, not blindly grabbing all those the society says you should have at your age. Because the standards change. And if 40 is the new 30, then 25 is the new 15.
One of the big reasons for my depression was the fact that I didn’t see any substantial meaning in being a marketer and in devoting the whole of myself to it. I felt that there’s so much more happening on the inside that wasn’t utilized by simply doing my job as good as I could. But I would stubbornly concentrate all my energy on work, neglecting relationships, friendships and all the other things I was lucky enough to have. Even though I was physically there for the people I loved, I kept thinking about work, constantly digging a deeper hole of insufficient meaning for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of meaning in honest work, in growing, in becoming the best possible professional version of you. But this doesn’t require all the immense energy sources your body and mind are producing for love, socialization, creativity, etc.
I learned it the hard way.
A couple of months ago I thought that marketing as a profession wasn’t fulfilling for me, even though on paper it’s kind if the perfect fit. So I put that career on hold and decided to go to China to become a coach. I always thought that coaching is kind of cool, so my logic at the time could be condensed to “why not, I’m unhappy anyway”. And so, feeling courageous and slightly judged for irresponsibility, I came to China.
Imagine my shock and despair when after a month in a completely new culture, with a completely new social circle and a completely new career I felt the same things I felt at all my previous jobs. Unfulfillment, boredom.
I clearly saw that yeah, I can do this, and yeah, I can be successful in it. But what’s the point? Where does this path bring me? Is it the best way to use up my time? Do I feel that my life is or will be meaningful here, far from all the loved ones?
I’ll level with you, I got really scared for a little while. I felt that this was just the way I am: unhappy, emptied and burned out. And the only choices I saw were:
1. To force myself to do something I saw no point whatsoever in doing.
2. To live in constant stress of getting used to new challenges.
And then it struck me. What if the meaning of life isn’t only in work? What if the spheres I neglected are just as (if not more) important than getting to the top of a corporate ladder?
You probably think that this was also the moment I felt sorry for going to China and for changing everything in my life so drastically and so quickly.
Well, not really.
I felt good. I felt relaxed. All the resources I poured into this trip were justified that very second since I’m not sure I would have realized the same things have I kept on going down my old path.
Catch my drift? Would I have stayed, I would’ve been miserable for who knows how much longer. Which brings me to the main point I want to make in this text.
Even when you’re young it’s very easy to settle down and get used to stuff. A job that pays well, a city you don’t like that much, okay people. It’s easy to start telling yourself one or several points of the following:
- If I change everything it can get worse
- It’s just a normal life
- Many people are far less happy
- Many people live like this so that’s fine
- I have invested a ton of time into this so I can’t quit
For some people, it works. But I also know for a fact that many people like me try to convince themselves that everything’s fine but don’t believe it.
And guess what it means.
It means that you’re not in the right place. It means that you can and should look for a way out, for a drastic change, for a new route to take. It means that all the reasons listed above that feel like concrete walls you can’t break – are just in your head.
If your being asks for change, it will get it. No matter how much you struggle to fight it, you can’t win in a fight against yourself. Some part of you loses either way. So why not trust yourself and at least consider the way your subconscious hints you at.
I think it’s worth completely changing surroundings when you feel stuck. When you find yourself in a new place with people you just met and doing stuff you’re not that good at, some survival mechanisms kick in and you start growing like crazy. And in this pumped up adrenaline-filled state, you have a decent chance to jump over several steps on a ladder which you were trying to conquer for years before that.
The truth is that some people never find ecstatic happiness. Some people do just live okay lives in okay cities with okay people. And for some people it’s fine. But imagine how sorry you’ll feel if you don’t try and see if you happen to be one of the lucky ones.
What if your fulfilled life was around the corner and you decided that the job you don’t like that much pays well for now?
You know what’s the scariest thing that can happen really if you find the strength to do what you want?
I will tell you cause it happened to me. You will start over. That easy. But this time with the new insights you gained, new experiences you had, and a ton of stories to tell.