I picked up Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans because I want to know how to find a career I love. Here’s my review.
I‘ve celebrated quite a few birthdays here on Driftyness. There was my 24th, which was about trying to value the slow process of building; and my 25th, which focused on how I wanted the last half of my 20s to be. And with my 26th birthday around the corner, I’m starting to think about focus.
I’ve spent time sketching out the big picture of what I want my life to be like, but now it feels time to drill down and start filling out the smaller details. It’s time to focus on building.
A quick review of my life tells me that life hasn’t gone the way I intended (I thought I’d be a young, sexy doctor by now) and I’ve learned to be more flexible with my plans. Instead of a bunch of concrete milestones, what I want for myself at 26 is to have a sense of direction.
One of the areas in my life that needs direction the most is my career. I’ve changed my career plans, done things to please others, worked for the money, and took on jobs because they seemed like something I ought to be doing even though I didn’t know how they would bring me closer to what I wanted. Now that I’m getting close to graduation, I don’t want to keep doing that.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what exactly I’d do instead.
I started reading Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans to help me come up with answers. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Sometimes, I get really anxious at night. My mind starts wandering to all the things I’m uncertain and insecure about: by the time I’m ready to enter the housing market will I be priced out? What if I never find a job I actually like? Does the fact that I’m a late bloomer mean that it’s too late for me to find a relationship?
Last night, as I not-so-gracefully gave myself over to the anxiety spiral, I read about a man who had his mugshot held for ransom. It basically ruined his life for a bit. Now, I don’t have a mugshot, but I do have a name twin. She has the same uncommon first and last name as me, and she’s made it her username all over the internet. So I googled my own name, as I sometimes do, just to make sure that nothing shady was going on.
I clicked a Facebook link, curious to see what my name doppelganger looked like, only to find that the Facebook profile was actually mine. It was a page from the hormonal, angst-filled cringefest of my early teens, and I had long ago abandoned it. “Abandoned” meaning that I logged out one day and never signed in again, leaving it up for the whole world to find on Google.
Naturally, I logged in to change my privacy settings, because no future employer or date needs to see how awkward I was at age 13. Curious about this time in my life that I try not to think about, I started clicking through my old photos. Was my hair really that healthy? And was I really that cute?
When I saw it, I gasped. The perfect loose-yet-draping-in-the-right-places dress. It was long and covered my legs, which meant I could skip the lotion if I was running late (#girlhacks). The V-neck cut was décolletage friendly without leaving me feeling overexposed, the thin and seamless straps made it look a little more designed than your average black maxi dress, and the material was one that wouldn’t start forming those horrid little balls that make whole outfits look shabby.
It wasn’t crazy expensive, but as a grad student with a limited income, I still had to save up for it. I calculated how long it would take for me to get it, and I checked on the dress a few days later.
To my horror, it was sold out and hasn’t been restocked since. My feelings were hurt, and to be honest, I’m still a little salty.
It bugged me even more because this has happened before on multiple occasions. Bombshell little black dress for a ridiculous price? Can’t afford it. Cute statement jewellery that matches my glasses? Too broke. Flash sale at one of my favourite stores? Not enough money for that, sorry.
I think I’ve got it half right in that I shouldn’t be spending money I don’t have, but I think I’m half wrong in not being prepared for situations that are only partly unpredictable: I know that they’ll happen, but I just don’t know when.
Adulting has been hitting me hard lately, girl. I got the sudden and rather difficult message that life is finite and what I do with myself and my time counts. My 20s feels like a scribble: a bunch of squiggles (experiences, hopes, likes, dislikes, memories) that I often can’t make heads or tails of. Sometimes I get so confused as to where my life is headed that I start to panic and do things. Things like anxiously waiting for The Defining Decade by Meg Jay to be back in circulation at the library.