Life can be like that (without the giving up part, of course). It can be an incredibly frustrating journey in which we try to find out what the hell we're supposed to be doing with ourselves while awkwardly trying to find the best match for us academically, socially, professionally, and romantically. Life is a game that is frustrating as hell when we're not winning but indescribably rewarding when we finally do.
Anyway, whether you're under 18 or not, you've gone through this. When you were five or six, you wanted to be an astronaut or ballerina or athlete or doctor or John Mayer's wife (hopefully for more than his usual half an hour, good luck Katy Perry) or Jessica Alba's husband.
(If my wife is reading this: No, I don't want to marry her anymore. If Jessica Alba is reading this: My phone number is at the bottom of the page. )
Back on topic before I get my phone taken away from me, we all change what our goals are, or maybe we don't reach them. While most kids have the idea that they want to have these amazing careers or significant others, it's pretty rare to hear one say that he wants a 9-5 in a cubicle on those awkward "Tell Me About Yourself" homework assignments on the first day of school. Not that there's anything wrong with that, at all, but there becomes a point where realism sets in or we realize that what we thought we always wanted turned out to be a better idea than reality, like eating all of your Halloween candy in a single night.
When I was a kid, I wanted to play for the Washington Redskins. Then I stopped growing at 5'7" and about six pounds, so I was disappointed. Obviously that wasn't going to happen, so I called out, "Marco" and SNL called back from across the pool, "Polo." Later, as I write about here in my About Jason section (because Jason loves referring to himself in the third person), I learned that while I love making people laugh, I loved working with them more. "Marco", I called. "Polo!" Social work responded, louder this time as I got closer to where I really belonged. After years in the child welfare system, I found that the one-on-one work was my calling. One last time, I called, "Marco." Right next to me was a loud, "Polo!" It took the better part of three decades, but I found what I really wanted, my actual Marco Polo, tagged it, and I was finally out of the water. Which is wonderful because not only do I love what I do, I love it more every day.
When you're a teenager, though, you enter freshman year thinking about your dream school, your dream career, and how to pass chemistry. As you get closer and closer to graduation, your dream school and your dream job can change, but it can feel like a disappointment when it does, like you've somehow failed. You haven't, though. You're just finding out what is the best fit for you and can realize that Harvard may not be your ideal (plus it's up in Massachusetts and who wants to be around Patriots fans all of the time?) and that being a Blue Hen or going to Del Tech could be the best thing for you right now. And that's the thing, it's "right now"; your life isn't over. Just because you didn't take the path that you thought that you would doesn't mean that you're taking the wrong path. Take a shot, call out "Marco", and you'll get closer to your Polo.
The same thing happens once you're already in a school or in a job. Sure it may be what you thought that you always wanted, but once you're there, it may just not feel right. You can stick it out and try to fit the round peg of your true calling into the square hole of your cubicle (get it? Square? Cubicle? No? Whatever), and sure, maybe it works out. But is that really what you want? For now it could work, but you're not stuck in your job. You can switch departments, you can switch companies, you can go back to school, you can find what you REALLY want to do. I don't care if you're 25, 50, or 75 (as long as you're a multiple of 25 you're set, just kidding), call out "Marco" and get closer to your Polo. You may not get to it right away, but every step, as I've said before, is a step forward. It doesn't have to be a six-figure job; it just needs to be the one that can support you and your family while being something to look forward to clocking into every day, not just wasting time until you clock out.
And, yes, it can be the same thing with relationships. You can be with someone for a day or a decade or more, but you're not stuck with that person. In fact, if you think that you're "stuck" with a person, then it's very likely that it's not the right person. I'm not saying that you have to be head over heels every day, but you want to genuinely look forward to seeing your significant other significantly more often than not. Does a rough patch signal than you need to go put on some Polo to find your Polo (that was lame as hell, sorry)? No, rough patches can just be rough patches. But if you're not happy in the relationship, then are you making her/him happy? Or are you just doing what's familiar?
With friendships, too. Is your best friend for the past ten years still your best friend? Maybe not. What's right for you at 5 doesn't have to be right for you at 15 doesn't have to be right for you at 50.
In fact, think about that in all aspects of your life: Are you doing what makes you happy, or are you just doing what you know how to do in order to get to tomorrow? That's not living; that's surviving. Go find what you want, not just what you know. And, get this, you may already have found your Polo career, college, friends, or partner. Hell, you liked Nirvana back in the 90's, and you'd probably stick with them over One Direction's 2014 album (no judgment if not, of course). New doesn't always mean better, familiar doesn't mean best, but if you don't explore your life, then you'll never know.
Of course, these are absolutely huge decisions to make. It's easy to put in a blog post and it's easy to think about it, but you'll want to talk it over with someone you trust. A lot of times that can be a friend, a spouse, a relative, etc. A lot of times that can be someone who can look at things from the outside without a bias to help you make the right and best choice, not just the convenient or quick choice. Does this mean that I'm going to tell you to quit your job and move across the country? Probably not. But it does mean that if you do stay, then you'll have talked to someone who can make those "What if?" moments fade away and your confidence that you are on the right path increase. There's no better feeling than tagging whoever's Polo when you're playing in the pool except for knowing that you're doing the same in all aspects of your life.
So, shoot me an e-mail, contact me through this site, or give me a call at (302) 464-0021. Together we can make sure that you're making the best decision for you right now and going forward, not just sticking with whatever you've chosen just because you chose it way back when.
And no, we will not actually go to a pool and play "Marco Polo". For one, don't be stupid, this is a metaphor. Two, I'm a terrible, terrible swimmer. I more avoid drowning than I do actually swim, so the game would end more with a lifeguard actually having to get in the pool than it would with high fives. And high fives are always preferred.