“I’m in my 20’s and I’m trying to figure my future out. I’m just wondering how to stop worrying and letting the fear of the unknown totally consume my daily thoughts. I’m scared of the future, even though I have overcome obstacles before. When does all this just click into place?”
Sound familiar? The first thing I would say is: You are not alone. Lots of people, young and old, are afraid of the unknown, especially when things are not settled, everything’s up in the air. I’m in my early 20’s, so I don’t know what the future holds. Nobody does! But I do know what it’s like to be afraid of a wide open, scary future.
The second thing I would say is this: No one has the answers. No one knows the best path you should take. No one has figured out the ultimate answer to your problem of fearing the future. The best of us just fake it and make it look like we know what we’re doing. We don’t. We’re still trying to figure it out too, and the honest truth is, most of us are either scared shitless or faking it, even to ourselves. But you want some practical advice, I’m sure. So let me do my best here … but always remember that 1) you’re not alone, and 2) no one really has any answers.
You don’t have a job, no fixed things to do, things are wide open … and that’s scary, but also an advantage. Your schedule is open, and you have immense possibilities. The way to take advantage of that is to find something to get good at, and then get really good at it. As good as you can.
And here’s more good news: it doesn’t really matter what you choose. If you choose to get good at design, and work for two years on that, and then discover you hate it, you can switch! You might then get good at making hand-crafted goods, and then switch when you decide that’s not for you. Or learn blogging, and get good at that. It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter because time spent getting good at something is never wasted. You learn about how to get good at something. You meet others who are passionate. You make connections, with people and with ideas and with yourself. You learn about yourself in the process.
How do you get good at something? Well the starting blocks are:
1) Pick something, anything, that interests you.
2) Find the easiest next step, and get moving on it.
3) Find joy in that.
4) Find someone to share it with. Better yet, find someone you have to turn it in to, like a boss or colleague or friend who will hold you accountable.
5) Find the next easy step, and enjoy that as well.
You’ll suck. You’ll doubt yourself. You’ll wish you were better, faster. We all do that, but the good news is, you’re young, you’re only 20 and it’s good to suck for awhile. By the time a few months or even years pass, you’ll suck a lot less.
So what I’m trying to say is, find a hobby or skill. Get good at it. When you get good at it, then you get better at it. When you think you’re better at it you’re halfway there. When you do get good enough at it you can someday turn this new hobby into a job. Which is the ideal life in my eyes.
You’ll find, from one moment to the next, that everything is fine. You’ll start to develop a trust in the present moment. And that’s the antidote to fears about the future: learning to trust that you’ll be OK, because as each moment passes, you keep being OK.
By Odhran O'Mahony. You can read more of his work here.