“People should do what they loved to do when they were 10 — the age before you start caring what others think.” — Joy Behar
“What did you want to be when you grew up?”
Have you ever asked an adult this question? It’s a curious thing because more often than not, our goals have changed drastically from what they were in our adolescence. What once was dreams of “change the world” or “become super famous” now looks more like “make my mortgage payment” or “not be broke when I retire”. Not that there is anything wrong with those goals but there is something missing from them.
Most of our 9-year-old selves would be less than impressed by what we do for a living. And probably even disappointed in what we spend our time doing while we aren’t working — looking at you Fortnite players and Netflix marathoners.
Personally, I found a fair amount of my goals recently have been surrounded by the idea of making a large some of money at one time so that I can go back to spending my time doing things I have a passion for. And I’m wrong for this line of thinking. Here’s why.
“So what do you do?”
Do you know how many times I’ve answered this question with: “I’m a software engineer”? Too many. While that is my profession, that’s not how I identify myself. I’m a writer, a traveler, a devoted learner. I’m a coach and a casual sports enthusiast. I’m a musician and a highly-unskilled-sketch artist. I’m a poet and a self proclaimed scrabble champion.
But guess what I have a tendency to do with my spare time? You guessed it — fortnite/netflix.
While it is fun to play a video game, or relaxing to watch a few episodes of my new favorite series. The feeling pales in comparison to how I felt when I published a children’s book. And for good reason; because it aligned with who I am before all the adult noise got in the way.
“What is ‘adult’ noise?”
It’s that voice in your head telling you that you need to make sense. It’s the feeling you have when you feel like you’re not good enough. It’s what’s telling you that you suck at what you’re doing. It’s the idea that you’re too old to pursue an interest. It’s the reason you won’t drive 30 minutes to get a particular milkshake from a particular place that resonates with you for no particular reason.
I remember playing legos as a child, and I built a house out of different colored bricks because I liked it that way. I remember writing a 15 page story about a robot with no character development or story arc. I remember drawing characters I imagined as stick figures.
You don’t have to be good at something in order to enjoy it.
Hell, I probably enjoyed playing guitar more before I worried at all if I was good enough.
That’s adult noise. And I’ve been trying to turn it off.
“Sometimes doing nothing leads to the best something” —Christopher Robin
If you read this, I want you do something for me. Take the next 30 minutes and do whatever it is you want to do. Not what you “should” do. Not what “makes sense”. But whatever it is you actually feel like doing. And if that something is nothing, enjoy that nothing.
In the coming days I am going to spend more time doing the things I enjoyed as a child. And I’m curious what will become of it, because I have a hunch, I might find something I’ve been missing for awhile.