It's not that I don't have goals and dreams, or even that I don't have ambition and drive to achieve them; the problem is I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing! I know, I know - do what you love, what you want, what makes you happy, what makes you money, whatever gets you out of the damn house and away from your cats! Cliques like, "Your options are endless" and "You can be anything you put your mind to" might sound - as intended - inspirational and satisfying when your parents are still paying the bills, but when you're supposed to be making real-life decisions, deciding what "path" to be on, all those "options" and "anythings" become terrifying creepies that haunt your insomniatic mind until the wee hours of the morning: Grad school? Fellowship? Job search? Travel? Kids?
To give some context to the terror that is making-life-decisions, here is a typical conversation with myself:
"Okay, self, I've decided! I'm going to grad school!"
"Congratulations, self! Way to be assertive and make a decision! So, which program will it be: Women's Studies? Public Policy? Conflict Resolution? Teaching?"
"Oh, umm, I hadn't really ... I'm still working that out."
"Of course, of course, no need to hurry. Where you gonna go? Are you going to find the best program that will take you? Find a professor you want to study with? Stay close to home and family? How long do you want to go? Get a masters or just get it all done and once and get your doctorate? What if you hate the program? Your professors? Your cohort? What if you can't find a job after you graduate?"
"Okay, okay, self, sheesh .... Well, I have been in school for 7 years already, maybe what I really need is to spend some more time working. Now I've really made my decision! I'm going to look for a job!"
"Oh, that's fantastic, self! That decision should make life much less complicated! So, are you going apply for jobs in this city? State? Region? Are you willing to leave your partner (catless, because they are SO coming with you) while he finishes his degree and you take a job in New York? Do you take the entry level job or hold out of the one you're really interested in and almost qualified for? Is it possible to have a garden in a New York City apartment, and do you really want to spend 50% of your income to rent a 300 sf studio with neighbors who cook with stinky-cheese at 3 AM?"
"Whoa, self! I thought you said this decision would make life less complicated!"
"It will be less complicated after you answer these simple, little questions! Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to!"
"Nope, too many questions, too many complications - skip school, skip work, go traditional and have kids!"
"Who in the hell approved you for motherhood?!"
Trust me, no one could sleep with this babble going on in their head every night for months!
And that brings me here, pouring out my deepest frustrations and fears to you - the nameless ... um ... several ... and my mom - undecided and paralyzed by options. Aren't you glad you came?!