"What do you want to do with your life?" was such a fun game to play when we were kids. Our innocence and imaginations allowed us to dream big:
My generation in particular was raised to believe that we can do and be anything we want. We can dream big, shoot for the stars, and if we work hard enough these things should be within our reach.
Should be is the key phrase there.
The more I sit down and talk with my generation, the more I see so many intelligent, motivated, and passionate individuals wondering how to respond to the question "What do you want to do with your life?"
Truth be told, we have no idea how to begin to answer that. We want to do everything, and we are scared to do anything.
As we grew up, we learned that the world is a little bit more complicated than we first imagined when we dreamed those big dreams, so we shrunk our goals to manageable portions, losing our dreams completely. We may have attempted them at one point or another, only to realize that dreaming big and attaining those goals was not as simple as our parents had empowered us to believe.
We were told that we could do anything, until we realized that we didn't have those skills or experience.
We were told that we could go anywhere, until we realized that it cost too much.
We were told that we could be anyone, until we realized that the role was already taken.
We were raised with more technology, more opportunity, and more freedom than any generation before us. We were raised with access to other cultures, other forms of communication, endless tools to gain information, in a way that generations before us cannot imagine. We were raised with everything and yet when it comes to answering the question, "What do you want to do with your life" we're left grasping for straws.
We live in the tension of believing and wanting to do anything and everything, while at the same time trying to be realistic and logical and safe.
More than anything, I am discovering that my generation, myself included, is craving stability.
We characterize millennials as carefree, reckless, free spirits who don't consider the future, who don't plan for retirement, and who pick up and travel on a whim. The reality is, the majority of us are too much in debt to travel, to ignorant to know how to plan for retirement, and lacking jobs that would even provide us that opportunity.
We consider the future and shrink back in fear because we have no idea how to plan for that future. We don't want the picket fence and suburban life of our parents, but we do crave the safety and stability that we were raised with. So we are left with the daunting task of creating stability in a future that is completely unstable.
The question "What do you want to do with your life?" is too vast to answer. What I want to do and the life I want to lead don't always seem to match up. I want stability and safety and a firm place to land my feet. But I also crave freedom, the opportunity to dream big again, and pursue those dreams, in spite of the fears I might have about how unstable and unsure those dreams will be once they are brought into fruition.
"What do you want to do with your life?"
I want to believe that I can truly live and dream as big as they told me I could when I was a kid.