I’m Almost 35 and I Still Don’t Know What I Want to be When I Grow Up

It’s not easy to admit to yourself that you’re hopeless. No, not hopeless, maybe. Adrift. Wracked with doubt. Rudderless. Unsure. Standard Millennial malaise. Bored. Lost.

Over-reacting?

Back when I was a carefree child I wanted to be a paleontologist. Because of all the simple ideas a kid can latch on to, I chose dinosaurs. Plus, getting paid to dig holes in the ground sounded like a sweet gig. Like many people those interests went away when something else came along.

For me it was Nintendo. You whippersnappers just getting out of college had a similar reaction to, I don’t know, iPhones probably.

I’ve gone through a lot of what you might call career options or at least, career attempts. I couldn’t stick to a single one. Was it because I’m lazy? Perhaps. I also don’t have much patience for gratification. Instant or nothing baby!

I’m worried it might be because I came in on the tail end of the lead gasoline craze. Count your blessings Gen Y. The economy might be dead by the time you enter it and the world might boil all the ice away, but at least there isn’t stupidity gas in the air anymore. Stupid poisoned environment. I’m glad we fixed all of that.

Where was I?

Right. Crippling depression brought on by a complete lack of fulfillment. People talk about how there are lots of famous people that didn’t hit their mark until later in their lives. I’m sure if you look hard enough there’s a snazzy infographic out there to back me up. It’s all a big case of confirmation bias though.

You’re going to find examples of great successes who were older if you look hard enough, that’s just basic logic. For every one of those geezers like me but successful you find, however, there’s bound to be a thousand or a million other chumps who amounted to nothing.

Like me.

Man, this is getting dark. Let me try and lighten the mood up a little bit.

A few days after I quit drinking I saw a guy fall down some stairs and split his head open. Blood everywhere. Sounded like a cantaloupe in a pillowcase.

Shit. I’m making this worse.

That moment helped clarify my decision to jump on the wagon. Because it easily could have been me stumbling down a staircase like a sack of wet noodles. Honestly, it’s a miracle I made it through my late twenties without falling in front of a train. I can’t even count the number of times I made it home completely blacked out.

There’s a time and a place for everything though and it’s called Roppongi.

How does this relate to finding a rewarding career? It doesn’t. It just serves to remind me that for a long time I couldn’t picture being in my thirties. I didn’t plan ahead much beyond the next time I would get drunk. Which was all the time. Not a great way to live a life but it keeps things simple. One decision tree.

Are you drunk? Yes? Get drunker. No? Do you have to work? No? Get drunk.

Fun times.

Nowadays I’ve stuck my foot into political work like one sticks their foot in a puddle the depth of which they vastly underestimated. This was a great idea right up to November 8th, 2016. Come November 9th I was wishing I’d stayed in Tokyo and maybe taken a header down some steps instead. Yeah, I said it. The 45th President is worse than violent head trauma.

That’s insensitive of me. No one chooses to crack their skull open. Some 60 million people woke up on a Tuesday and said to themselves, “Yeah. This will be a good idea.”

If you can explain that to me I’d love to hear it.

You might be wondering if the guy on the stairs was all right. I have no fucking clue. I had a train to catch and I wasn’t about to miss it. I wasn’t going to wait for the last train because that shit always ran late. It would have taken me at least an extra hour to get home. Plus, it’s always super crowded with drunks.

The world is a cold place.

Metaphorically speaking. Scientifically speaking it’s getting hot as shit.

Fighting the Entropy of Apathy

I took a few days off from my blog this week. I know I’ve only been at this for about two months. Plus, the “job requirements” I’ve set myself are pretty lax.

Three articles a week? Cake walk.

All of my other personal tasks are equally simple to achieve. Still, it’s always nice to feel like I am accomplishing things. Even if I’ve rigged the expectations. It’s easy to succeed when the bar is reading book instead of watching Netflix.

I shout them out all the dang time so it should be obvious that Netflix played a big role in my mini-vacation. Caught up a bit on House of Cards. It’s nice to imagine what having a competent sociopath in the Oval Office is like rather than an incompetent one.

Call it escapism.

I also worked on my fourth or fifth complete viewing of Parks and Recreation. Love that show.

The point is that I didn’t really “do” a lot over these past few days. I think I’ve made it obvious that I don’t exactly do much on a normal day. I can stretch what should be a few hours of accomplishment in to a whole day effort. I can also waste the day away without so much as a twinge of regret. Is this some kind of laziness superpower?

Are most people like this at heart? In Japan, it’s elevated to an art form. I learned from the best.

Don’t get me wrong. I can work when needed. I put in 80 hour weeks during the 2016 elections. I got up at 5am so I could drive an hour away through a hurricane in order to be in front of a Dollar Store an hour before it opened. Why? Because I was told it would help win the election. So, I did it. I’ve got no doubts about my capability to do work.

The motivation aspect is what I’m worried about.

Would getting up at 5am each day help me become a successful writer? Maybe. Is that even what I want to be? More importantly, is it right to require such effort in the first place? I think if I was pulling a steady paycheck and my boss told me to get up at 5am to write blog articles until the sun went down I could do it. Would it be worth it?

Probably not. So, why should I bother?

Too many rhetorical questions I know. I hope this is a common line of thinking for most people. It would make me feel better if it was. Why do I get up every day and do what I do? Why can’t I just crash on the couch and watch Netflix? I suppose this is the Republican nightmare of welfare. Give people enough money and they won’t do anything.

Then civilization collapses and anarchy reigns.

Obviously, if everyone just watched Netflix there would be nothing to watch in the first place. Until computers can do everything for us at all times perfectly. Which might not be that far off. For now, it’s up to each person to decide what is important to them. What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Is it just to kill time until the next day comes so you can repeat the process? I’ll admit that has been the case for me more times than I’m comfortable with. That’s how I felt for a long time when I was living in Japan. For me, perhaps the best way to quit laziness is the same way I stopped drinking and smoking.

Cold turkey.

Something tells me it’ll be harder than either of those previous vices.

The Value of Writing Advice

You’ve probably read a metric ton of articles, books, blogs, stone tablets, semi-fore flailing’s, about how to write. Or maybe this is the first article on the subject you’ve come across.

Which would be weird.

Anyway, I have a degree in English, Creative Writing focus from one of the top Engineering schools in the country. I don’t say that to disparage my school or its writing program.

But it doesn’t often elicit assured nods and mutters of approval when I talk about it. This is why I almost never bring it up. Another, more important reason, is I don’t get out much.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading up on how to write. Consistent study of my craft is something I’ve put off for a long time. Here and there I would indulge in an attempt to “be a writer” and typically I’d stop. Maybe it was because photography had cooler toys. Or a podcast was more collaborative. Or improv comedy was more fun.

Time and time again I would do something else, anything really, rather than write. These past two months I’ve tried once again to write. My biggest fear is I’m only able to do that because I’m unemployed. Yes, that’s right, two months of regular writing is not enough to break into a world of riches and rocket ships. Is that what wealthy people buy nowadays?

Rocket ships?

I’ve also done a lot of studying about how to write. Mostly about how to write quality marketing copy and such. You know, riveting stuff. Important to be sure if you’ve got a six rocket ship a month habit. But these are just a bunch of new rules to learn. In school, I learned the rules of fiction, now I’m learning non-fiction, web based writing.

Plus, books on these subjects are more numerous. For some reason.

I wouldn’t call it advice though. Telling you to keep paragraphs to four sentences or less is more a guideline than advice. I think the issue with writing is that since it’s all subjective, telling you how to do something can easily be framed as advice. Take it or leave it. A lot of writing advice out there seems more like adding tools to a toolbox rather than teaching you how to use them.

Well, they tell you how to use them. However, showing you how to change the oil is different than learning how to become a mechanic.

With photography, for example, it’s easy to get hung up on the gear and figuring out how each number changes the result. Raise your ISO to make it brighter. Slow down the shutter to make it blurry. Spend several thousand dollars on a lens you’ll use once.

And so on.

One of my favorite purveyors of writing advice is Chuck Wendig, who talks about being a writer as someone who digs a tunnel. Once you break through to the other side of success you blow it up with dynamite behind you. So, no one can follow you, of course. Because fuck those people.

The point is you make your own path. It’s hard work and it’s not like you want to blow up the tunnel. You have to because there are dark things chasing you. There’s no choice. Everyone has their own reasons and their own methods.

The key is not giving up and letting the monsters catch you.

Which is good advice. Real advice, not just how many words should be in your title.

My personal advice is rather simple. Just write more. Doesn’t matter what or how much. People will ignore you until you give them a reason to stop what they’re doing and pay attention. You can’t really predict how that will happen.

Or if it even will.

The only thing you can control is the output. Maybe nothing will come of it. That’s how I feel about the whole thing now. But I’ll keep writing.

Write more. That’s my advice. Let me know how it works out.