A Different Question – Just a Bit of Advice (Part 1)

Trying to look stoic and thoughtful after a few sips of coffee.
Trying to look stoic and thoughtful after a few sips of coffee.

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I didn’t do much yesterday, said goodbye to M as she went to see some friends and work, then plugged away on the laptop all day before the Gens game. I did do a lot of thinking though, and decided to start a shiny new series. Hope you enjoy.

Joel’s Journal - Entry #69 - 8/1/2017

It’s a question that I seriously think needs to be rephrased. Throughout high school, where I was a four-foot five bean pole (well, I’m a six-foot tall bean pole now, but that’s besides the point). I was a tiny kid with a big mind, always wearing a tuque, even in summer, containing my wild patch of black hair. There was always a skateboard in my hand too.

Well, during those days, the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up was always circling in my head. Like a boomerang it would keep coming back and in Grade 9, I could easily chuck that thought away, wait for it to come back a day, a week, maybe a month later, and then chuck it away again.

Come Grade 11 and 12, I realized I couldn’t keep chucking it away, I would either need to find a use for it, or risk forever having this thought circling my brain.

Luckily for me, I knew what I wanted to be, a writer, but that doesn’t help you when you’re 16 and barely even know how to operate a bank account or cook for yourself.

Eventually, I figured out my way, but I honestly think the question people should be asking themselves, especially young people, is not what you want to BE when your grow up, it’s what do you want TO DO when you grow up.

They sound like the same thing, but they’re not. That small, simple re-framing of the question has massive ramifications for how you look at your future. When you think of it in terms of “being”, or what do I want to BE? It makes the assumption that this just happens. You make the decision, I want to be that, and then *bing* five years later you have a fancy university degree and you’re “being” what you wanted.

No.

If you change it to what do I want to do, you should automatically assume there’s work involved. Minus the fact that includes the same words on every child’s dreaded list from their mom on the weekend, it also implies doing, it implies action, work.

And knowing that your decision is only the first step toward a long, long journey of work, good times and bad, would have been such a big help at the time.

I think as a young and naive kid you just assume that things are going to be easy. And for the most part, life can be easy, if you let it.

Just understand that you’ve got to work, and you need to be patient.

So, for me, I made that realization a few years ago, around the time that I moved out west for a job and my life was turned into a mystery novel, except nobody had died and the only person to figure out who had gotten us in that position was me, and the person to figure out how to survive that way, was, yup, you guessed it, me.

People, if you’re one of the lucky ones who knew what they wanted to do before leaving high school, that’s great, if you weren’t, don’t worry, it’s not too late. It’s never too late to look at your life and say it’s time to start doing things that I want to do.

Just know that it’s not about what you want to be, it’s about what you want to do.

And make sure that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing something you love, and you’re doing it well.

Thanks for reading,

J.J.W.

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