Have you ever wished that your life was neatly compartmentalised into little cells on a spreadsheet?
It would say something like this: between 22 to 24 years focus on this. It would have a personalised timetable and it would tell you exactly what you needed to do and when.
Excel would figure your life out.
But, life is not like that, life is messy. Not in a bad way, as a matter of fact. It has threads and circumstances, sense and out of the blue; all of which are meant to lead you to the holy grail: your purpose. We all wish to make sense of it all. But untangling each thread of your life too quickly can easily create a bigger knot than you ever wanted.
Ever tried to untangle headphones? Yes? You get the drift.
So what do you do when you don’t have it all figured out?
I have been asking myself that question all week.
The week started off like this:
Passed stage 1 of the LPC 💃 pic.twitter.com/COMDNjp8rK
— C A R O (@talesofcaro) April 11, 2017
I was fresh out of law school (temporarily) and officially on Easter holiday, ready to use all of my free time to finally go to some creative events. Then came Saturday. I attended the Glug London event at Old street. An event which brought together speakers from the creative industry to discuss the future of design.
As the talks went on, I started to feel a little nervous. The networking break was coming up. Usually, this is my favourite part of any event. Meeting new people and learning about what they do with a drink in sight or two… But this time, I was nervous. What was I doing here?
I was in a room full of creatives and anytime I would attempt to introduce myself I would break out into an awkward stutter, mumbling something about “law, coding and no I don’t work in the creative industry, I am just interested”. So, I mostly stayed in my seat. I started to wonder whether going to the event was a good idea. I mean, what I’m I actually getting out of it? Should I be burying my head in my books? I’m I wasting time by going to events that have nothing to do with my immediate career?
Shortly after, Emma Sexton who is a host on the Badass Women’s Hour podcast amongst other amazing things, gave an amazing talk on following your passions, feminism and top 3 tips for starting your business.
I drew the confidence to go and speak to her once the talks were finished and after a deep breath, I finally admitted what was actually making me uncomfortable: I have no idea what I’m doing. Saying that out loud was probably the most liberating moment that I had all week. The truth is that, I have no clue how all of the different threads in my life are meant to come together to create my purpose and sometimes I wish that anytime I had to make an important decision, a note would float down from the sky, signed by God. A simple yes or no would do.
I bet, she didn’t even know that her simple response to all of my unspoken questions, would set the tone for this blog post and my new mindset.
Chill out?? That is the worst thing that someone can say to me. Chill out? I have companies to run and products to invent how can I chill out?! Time is ticking! I have only 8 more years to make it into Forbes 30 under 30. Call me over ambitious, but that is a must.
“Millennials put too much pressure on themselves to find their purpose, you need to trust the process”
Okay, so maybe she was right.
I talk a lot about process and about how life is a journey. The concept is great for a tweet or two, but in reality, it’s painful not knowing which opportunity to take and which not to take. When to quit and when to start. It’s uncomfortable.
Whilst talking to Emma, I realised that it’s the “what ifs?” that are making the journey uncomfortable and the only way to get rid of them is by chilling out.
I realised that chilling out is trusting that even if your what ifs are true, you will be alright. Chilling out is accepting that, whatever is on the other side of your decisions, you can handle it. Chilling out, is not getting frustrated with not having a perfect blueprint that will lead you to the right door, but instead, walking right through it, at your own pace and realising that even if it’s not the right one, it will be okay. There will always be another door.
It’s been a week of realising things
1. The right people
Surrounding yourself with people who help you to chill out, love you and encourage you to go for it, whatever your “it” is, is so important. I am so glad for my friends who keep me sane in the middle of this mess that I am creating. My sister:
My sister told me that if I don't chase my ideas I'll end up stuck in my ugly little room in South East London forever. Wow. Thanks sis.
— C A R O (@talesofcaro) April 12, 2017
Fierce souls like Emma Saxton who have walked through doors, probably smashed a few and can now pass on a word of wisdom to people like me. A God, who constantly finds ways to remind me in my day to day that it’s going to be okay and if I would only shut up for a second I would experience his peace.
We have to be grateful that we were born into a generation where options are a headache. I mean, first world problems anyone?
2. But really…
I get it: adulting sucks. Most days I wish I could bring back the superwoman cape that I used to wear during University. The bar was low. I could do anything and everything that I wanted. In my head, the world was an ocean of endless opportunities, until responsibilities and obstacles started to obstruct my flight and all of a sudden my cape didn’t feel so light anymore.
3. Figure it out
Figure out what is tugging at your cape. Yes, there will be days when you feel like a headless chicken trying to go in the right direction, but when those days come ask yourself: where is the pressure coming from? Is it family? friends?
Is the pressure an indication that you need to make a change or is it just you trying to run ahead of life? If it’s the latter, slow down.
Don’t get yourself in knots trying to unravel your future, before you have built the character that you will need to handle it.
Lastly, chill out and enjoy the ride. Stress gives you spots.
Emma Sexton: http://www.emmasexton.com/