I’m super excited to have this guest post for you all today. It’s from all-round lovely gal and mega-talented Youtuber Emily Marj, who you may remember from my weekly ‘I like all the things’ round-up (in which she’s featured quite heavily, haha.) I definitely can relate to this post and found myself able to draw a bit of inspiration from Emily’s wise words, so hopefully you can too! Follow Emily on Twitter here and on Tumblr here, and be sure to check out her Youtube channel here. Happy reading! x
It happens to me exactly twice a year, every break between semesters. As time passes from ‘early holidays’ to ‘almost time to go back’, it starts. The small voice in my mind starts to talk, softly at first, but it starts.
“Is this really what you want?”
A lot of people might call me lucky. When I was sixteen I picked a design degree at my town’s university out of a booklet handed to me at school and I stuck with it. A degree in graphic design and media editing. Sounds great. Let’s roll with that one. According to society that’s a very responsible thing to do. Knowing what you intend on doing with the rest of your life at sixteen is apparently a very valuable characteristic.
“Are you sure?”
A lot of things have changed since I was sixteen. For one, I no longer have that hideously large side fringe that essentially covered my whole face. I’ve had my first job, my first love, my first real breakup. I’ve been so drunk I’ve spent the following day over the toilet bowl, despite sixteen year old me claiming to be a non-drinker because she apparently didn’t see the point. I’ve started various blogs and of course, my YouTube channel. If all of that can change, what’s to say my preference in life career hasn’t changed also?
It’s around about here where the panic starts. Every doubt I ever had about my choice of be all and end all career comes flooding into that little brain of mine. Am I good enough? Will it pay enough? Will I get bored? Can I handle the pressure of a job that works to a deadline? Do I even want this anymore? Am I only doing this because I had nothing better to do? Should I have taken a gap year? By the time I get out of there I’ll be twenty two. I should have travelled. I should have moved away to university. I should have taken a plane to the depths of the Amazon and strangled a snake with my bare hands.
Okay, maybe not that.
My point, I suppose, is that as an almost twenty year old, life is pretty daunting. You’re expected to have a plan and know where you’re going and be a responsible adult and all of that nonsense.
And to me, that’s sort of what it’s started to become – a little bit of nonsense.
For some it might be easier than others to admit – and for me it was actually sort of terrifying – but once you allow yourself to let go of the idea that you need to have a plan and follow through with it and do everything by the book, you’re going to be a much happier person. I’ve come to realize that I just have no room for restrictive planning. Having a plan gave me structure, but it also gave me a ton of unwanted stress. What happens if the plan doesn’t work? What happens if I don’t like the plan in three years time?
I’m here to tell you that the plan doesn’t have to work. Hell, you don’t even have to have a plan. If you want to go spend some time in New York, or London, or the middle of the Amazon, just go and do it. Take a pottery class. Change your hair. Climb a mountain. Buy a house boat and just stay on the water for a while. There’s no point stressing about your future if you don’t even know what you want to do with it yet, and there’s certainly no point stressing over not knowing. Stop worrying and go out and enjoy yourself. Stop restricting yourself to your own comfort zone. You might learn some things about yourself in the process of doing all this that will allow you to make an informed decision about where you might want to be in another ten years.
Unfortunately I’m not the sort of person who can pull off an ironic YOLO, but the sentiment still stands. You’re only going to have this life for a short amount of time in comparison to the millions of years this little planet has been floating in our galaxy. And you’re only going to be young once. You can settle down and know what you’re doing later. Or not know. That’s fine too. You are not restricted to one thing for the rest of your life. That is an outdated idea that goes back centuries to times where your father’s father and your father and eventually you would all be bricklayers, and there was no other option if you wanted to get by in life.
One day you’ll be old and frail and unable to walk twenty feet without assistance and I can guarantee by that point it will be too late. Being young is one of the best things you’ll ever do and if all you do is spend your time worrying, you’re wasting it.
I’m going to finish my degree. I might not ever use it, but hey, that’s okay and at least I achieved something. In three years I could be a different person again. I might decide to be an astronaut. I can’t imagine astronauts have a great need for knowledge on graphic design. Who knows what will happen between now and then?
“Oh but Emily, you’re making it sound much easier than it is! I can’t just stop worrying!”
You can. You can if you let yourself. I promise it will be worth it.
Breathe in. Admit to yourself that it’s okay to have no freaking clue. Breathe out.
Let it go.