Friday, 23 March 2012

My Answer to the Inevitable Question

Questioned Proposal by Eleaf
I've worked so hard to answer this question without any success that I've finally put it on the backburner. For years I struggled and stressed whenever I thought, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" I took personality tests, examined lists and lists of possible careers (calculating salary, location, and opportunity for advancement),  and sought advice from loved ones. I prayed until I was tired of praying, I researched until my eyes watered. And through it all there was never an Aha! moment when my future unfolded before my eyes and everything was made clear. There was a time when I was fairly sure that I wanted to be a teacher (you can hear all about it on video 1 and 2 of my high school graduation speech, or read the transcript here), but with further knowledge that dream is slipping by the wayside, or going through some serious modifications.

So here's another question: do we have to have it all figured out? Must we know at age 15, or 17, or even 20 what we want to do with the rest of our lives, as long as the next few steps are decided? My answer is, yes and no.

Yes: It's important to plan ahead; if you don't have something of a road map then you have no idea where you're going! It pains me to see some of my friends and acquaintances drift through life without any concrete goals, just vague ambitions and hopings for the best. I don't want to be flipping burgers at McDonald's when I'm 30, I'm going to make some plans.

No: If my diligent (not to say manic) research of possible career paths has taught me nothing else, it has made me realize that there are so many possibilities! Our world is one of absolutely unlimited potential. I listen to several podcasts on a regular basis which I would recommend to anyone who doubts that it's possible to find creative work that matters and that you love48 Days, No More Mondays, Free Agent Underground, and Coach Radio. The hosts of these shows are inspiring, revolutionary, and are constantly giving me great ideas.

But they aren't giving me a roadmap, and that's what I think so many of us want. We want God to hand down the script from Heaven and say, "Here, my child, these are the plans I have for you." Unfortunately, that doesn't happen.

What has happened, for me at least, is that I've been given inspiration for the next few steps of my journey. I started taking CLEP and DANTES tests a few years ago to earn credits for a college degree (you can learn how I earned over 84 credit hours without stepping foot in a college here). Then I enrolled in Thomas Edison State College, a fantastic (fully-accredited) school that will accept bucket-loads of transferred credits. Now I'm on track to complete my bachelor's degree in English by November of this year. What am I going to do with that degree? It's hard to say. I've tried to study in my strengths (you'll notice I didn't major in basket-weaving or algebra), because I figure that whatever my future career looks like, it's going to involve writing, and a lot of it. I also have plans to go to Bible school for several months in England, and I'm super-excited about that!

In the end, it's all a delicate balance between two proverbs,

 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6).
"Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (Proverbs 4:26).

What about you? Are your next steps clear?

Questioned Proposal, a photo by Eleaf on Flickr.


  1. This was really good Abby! I'm one of those people that likes to have my life planned out really well and I struggle with finding my life purpose and pursuing it. This post encouraged my heart:]

    Our family has listened to 48 days as well as No More Mondays but I've never heard of the other two that you mentioned. I'll have to go and check them out.

    Thanks for the great post!


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