Tag Archives: Career

Planting Grass on Graduation Day and “What do I want to do in life?” Sucks

I planted grass the day I graduated high school. This isn’t metaphorical wordplay either: I literally planted grass. No grand statement about sowing seeds for the future or dreams of a career in horticulture or anything. Just planting grass for the sake of planting grass.

My grandfather passed away about a year and a half earlier and he was an avid gardener. He planted about five acres of land by hand as a hobby and sold the produce at his roadside vegetable stand. He then took the money from that and funded next years crops. He’d work at least 12 hours a day during the spring, summer, and fall. I didn’t know it at the time but he was a fucking madman.

One little area he planted was right next to their house, just a tiny 20-by-15 foot rectangle that he sometimes let me plant things in. There’d usually be sunflowers, tomatoes, and strawberries, and I don’t recall what else was usually grown there. Anyways, he passed away and his tiny garden turned to grass and weeds, still mowable because it was such a small area, but the rectangle looked awful in the rest of yard. Wild grasses and weeds growing in a box in the middle of grass (he rented the rest of the fields so those growing up in weeds didn’t matter). This is why I planted grass that day. I was doing my grandma a favor by making that hideous rectangular section of yard actually look nice.

I only mention this story because it seems like the perfect example for my indecision and indifference to my future. I was equally skeptical of the “importance” of graduation because, after all, it was just another day, right? Graduating high school wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I did my school work, got decent grades, and then I graduated. It’s almost like it was an accident, not my personal achievement but something that happened to me (yes, I’ve been reading up on Imposter Syndrome). But I also realized the importance of the day. We go to school nearly every day for most of our formative years. People usually don’t remember their lives before school, so school is just the thing we do for our entire lives growing up. It’s always there. And standing there planting grass I couldn’t help but realize that I was done. There was no more school. The past 14 years of nearly nonstop schooling was finished. 14 years?! I was now an adult, a real adult that wasn’t in school anymore. My life was in front of me. What would I do? What adventures would I go on? What greatness would I achieve?

Planting grass was the ellipsis at the end of my life story so far. ‘Jeremy graduated high school today and then…‘ And ‘then what?’ indeed. Looking back it seems like such a strange but totally obvious thing I’d do as the conflicted individual that I was and still am. No party? No celebration? No deep reflecting? No college apps? No job hunting? No. Plant grass. This was/is my post-high school life: doing random shit with no overarching goal.

I never knew what I wanted to do with my life as a teenager. I assumed time would clear up my indifference and indecision. One idea I toyed with was to become an aerospace engineer; I could design airplane stuff and it seemed challenging enough but I wasn’t set on it as a career yet. I wasn’t set on anything. I had floated through life up until graduation and I’d float through life just a little longer until I found something I was passionate about. Until I found my calling.

Then off to community college which I dropped after three semesters. I was too drunk, high, and riddled with substance/relationship-induced depression that I couldn’t drag myself through school anymore. I didn’t care. Once again, I was sure time would remove the fog, but just a little longer of indecision was perfectly fine, thank you.

About five fucking years later (or so) I stumbled back into college to finally knock out the Associate’s degree that I was about halfway through. A few years later: mission accomplished. A job well done. And now that I had a nearly-useless Associate’s degree the same question came up as it always does: now what? I still didn’t have any plan for what I actually wanted to do. By this time I was 28 or 29 and the ‘just a little more time until I figure things out’ idea was starting to freak me out. Ten years after high school and I was still as indifferent as I was when I was planting grass. So when was time going to clear things up for me?

I’m 33 and still have no idea what I want to do. I’ve basically given up hope that time will clear things up for me because it sure hasn’t even though I’m nearly double the age I was when I graduated. Maybe this is what they call ‘wisdom’? If it is it sure doesn’t seem very useful.

Stuck in my head like I always am, I assumed nearly everyone felt this indecision in life. No, not everyone it seems. A friend at work has recently started taking classes to major in biodegradable plastics. Fuck. That is so stupidly specific I’m assuming she knows exactly how passionate she is about it and went all in. There’s another girl that is taking a two year course to be a respiratory care nurse or something; once again she has all the confidence in the world and is fully committed to her plan. Sleepless nights, endless homework, no free time, and she loves the struggle of it all. Part of me wonders if they’re really that committed to their plans or if there is some denial about how quickly someone can change their minds or find it unfulfilling. I don’t know. And another friend recently obtained a Master’s degree in business and is now questioning everything about his life and the choices he’s made. He’s in his mid-thirties currently struggling through a blatant mid-life crisis where nothing is certain to him anymore. Years ago he was the most confident and driven person that I ever knew and admired his dedicated drive. How can anyone be this certain about what they want to do? I’d ask myself. But even people who seem self-confident in their goals can fall from grace given the bullshit that is life and the human mind. Is this terrifying or comforting? Probably a little bit of both.

Luckily I know of a few people just as lost and as clueless as I am. One friend is nearly in the same position I was in a few years ago, although much younger. She’s on the verge of getting an associates degree at the same community college I attended and also has zero idea of what she wants to do afterwards. I really hope she figures it out because I think it really helps a person achieve their potential if they have a clear direction to move towards, but it’s also comforting to know that I’m not alone with my struggles. I’m constantly trying to stress that I used to see time as a cure-all for indecision, and that I pissed away too much of it by doing so. That you might never know what you “really want to do” but time keeps ticking so you can’t sit around forever waiting. You have to make progress and do something, anything. Just trying to make my mistakes clear to others so they at least have the ability to learn if they feel the urge to do so.

This indecisiveness isn’t a thing that time clears up, that is certain. In fact it seems to be an individual trait and not some universal thing we all constantly share, although I’m positive most people feel hints of it here or there and simply deal with doubt better than I do. That’s just who I am: indifferent and too terrified to pick a singular thing and run with it. And fuck am I envious of those confident people that somehow know exactly what their calling in life is. Those that can sit down, get to work, and make progress towards their dreams while disregarding all the distractions on the journey. And even if you do feel like a lost, hopeless, and confused human being, others certainly feel the same way you do. We’re never alone, we just need to find others that share our flaws.

Not Enough Time Sucks

“What do you want to do with your life?!?”

-Seemingly Everyone

My default way of brainstorming is apparently lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. It feels like I start every blog post off this way, because it’s true. Anyways, I was lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. and was in a good mood, shockingly. I was looking forward to the following day and all of the possibilities that it offered me. I had a good selection of books that I wanted to read (Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules, Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment, Six Pillars to Self-Esteem, Dune, and every other book in my backlog), and more so than just read them, I wanted to understand them. I’m talking about really absorbing the books, taking notes on them, and reading and reflecting on what I had read. I also wanted to do this with a handful of musical albums. As with reading, I want to absorb the songs and understand them. I want to look up lyrics and ponder how the words play over and off the underlying music. There’s just so much going on to appreciate! And there are other things I want/need to do: I have a 5k coming up in a few weeks that I’m totally ill-prepared for, I need to write…and oh yeah writing! I have like three stories I’m working on along with this blog and I need to proofread stuff, and figure out a way to actually self-promote any writing I do accomplish. Work is still a thing and I also want to maybe work on being a flight instructor as a career. Who knows what I want to do?

It’s at that point I realized that my problem isn’t lacking things I enjoy doing, it’s having the time and motivation to actually do things. There’s just not enough time in the day (or in general) for me to do all the things I want to do.

Many of the tasks need patience, time, and thought to accomplish. Sure, while I could sit down and write blog posts/chapters and proofread them quickly, the same isn’t true with reading a book or listening to music. To really appreciate these things you need to take your time with them. You need to let your mind properly process them. And more importantly you can’t multitask them. “Why don’t you just listen to music while you write?” you might ask. It’s because when you write you’re probably not listening to the music like you’d want to. I’m a firm believer that the human mind can only really focus on a singular thing at once and listening to music in a distracting environment does the music a disservice. To really enjoy music, a book, and to appreciate the subtleties of any of the arts, you need to do them solo. To really dive in and appreciate what is going on.

Obviously there needs to be some form of prioritizing here and I don’t even know where to begin. Ranking things based on importance seems silly; reading is just as important to me as music and I can’t pick only one. There is also the question of what I actually feel like doing. Sometimes I’d rather read than listen to music while other times the opposite is true. Movies seem to have an even more unique mindset I need to be in to watch them. It isn’t a simple matter of prioritizing, or maybe it is and I’m just awful at having self-control. Forcing yourself to sit down and listen to music when you want to read seems almost sacrilegious in a way. And I don’t know how to decide what I actually should be doing with my time.

To be ultra depressing you can scale this struggle of what to do up from hobbies to careers. I have a handful of job-like things I could be working towards, and these take even more time and effort than reading or listening to music does. I think this is the main reason why people never seem to know what they want to do in life, it’s such a big decision to make that I understand why people simply don’t make a decision. “What you want to do in life?” seems to be such a loaded question in so many ways. It seems to be asking what you want to constantly be working towards day after day in your free time and your work time. And when you look at it that way no wonder people can’t fucking pick. There is absolutely nothing in this world that I’d be happy doing eight or ten hours each day, every day. I like my variety and choosing “what I want to do” seems to force any and all variety out of life, even if it isn’t true in practice.

I also like to blame video games for altering my outlook on what I want to do. Video games make it easy to accomplish literally anything in the game world you want. It’s a matter of dedication and time but in such a way that you can actually make progress. All of my skills in Stardew Valley are maxed out: IRL you can never max out every possible skill available. Hell, even in games like Skyrim you can still do certain things outside of your expertise. Even a wizard-mage-magical person can shoot a bow and kill things, just not very well. And even if you can’t do everything in a single play through you can always play multiple characters and accomplish everything the game world has for you to accomplish. There is no choice of “What do I want to do?” because you can do everything.

Real life forces you to actually pick the things you want to do, and hell if there aren’t too many interesting things to do. I want to write fiction and nonfiction. I want to blog. I want to fly airplanes. I want to make music. I want to paint or something. I want to put solar panels all over the house. I want to read and listen to music and go sit outside and enjoy nature. I want to stop climate change. I want to start a grilled cheese food truck. I want to live in the woods. I want to be a Buddhist monk. But there are only 24 hours in the day, 365 days in a year, and a finite amount of years left in my life. I physically can’t do nearly everything I want to do, and narrowing things down seems like an affront to the variety of things that life has to offer. It’s not so much that there is nothing I want to do, in fact there is too much to do that I’m paralyzed by the choices offered to me! I guess it’s a good problem to have but dammit if knowing that I’ll never get to experience all the things I want to do doesn’t feel awful. I hate deciding. I hate making choices. Especially when these choices involve things as important as choosing what to do with the time given to me. If only I could choose to have more time. But that’s kinda like what the Genie in Aladdin said about wishing for more wishes. You can’t do it, it’s illegal.