Oct 2, 2006

What if you don't have any dreams?

I'm a fan of the Daily Motivator by Ralph Marsden, but a statement in one Marsden's inpirational "movies" got me thinking. It said something along the lines of having had dreams when young, and about reawakening them. I didn't have dreams. I had daydreams, crazy fantasies I knew would never come true, but I had nothing that was so concrete that it could be made manifest, nothing that could be transformed into a goal. And it used to bother me. I used to wonder why I couldn't figure out what to do with my life, why others seemed to find picking a major for college or how they knew what line of work they wanted. I knew what I didn't want, but not what I did want.

I took the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) which colleges require for admission; when you take the test, you can have the results sent for free to three colleges/universities of your choice. I had absolutely no clue where to have my test results sent; I didn't know which college - if any - I wanted to attend. It made me cry. My mother said as long as I got my high school diploma, she didn't care if I went on to college. That helped relieve some of the pressure I was feeling.

I took the High School Proficiency Exam in 11th grade. If you pass it, you can quit high school (I managed to panic both my mother and guidance counselor). I took it because I was tired of school and because I was curious. The exam was very practical, asking questions about comparison shopping and balancing checkbooks and calculating fees - stuff no high school I knew of taught in any class. I passed but didn't quit school. I graduated with honors.

I was 17.5 years old, done with school, and went to work. A year later I was working for a travel agent and the office manager there - a single mother with unfashionable hair and a car that constantly conked out on her - said that if I learned the business I could end up where she was. She didn't know it, but that was the motivation I needed to go to college. I did not want to end up where she was. I went to a junior (two year) college, my major was psychology, and I graduated from those two years with honors. I still didn't know what to do with my life. I went to Norway to visit.

I ended up staying in Norway. I learned on the job and eventually (in 1990) found the work I love to do. It was practically handed to me. Since then I have worked at the same company as a hack typographer/graphic designer, doing - among other creative things - the layout on the company magazine. And never again have I felt bored with my work.

This is one reason why I say in my blog profile "Generally becoming happier and happier with each passing day, which actually makes me very happy because I thought I was destined to be miserable." And my point? I have none. I landed on the crest of a wave of life and was deposited safe and sound somewhere nice, none of it ever planned for. Does that work for everyone? No. But for those of us who are clueless, I guess I'm saying, don't sweat it. You don't have to have your life mapped out in every detail.

We are all ambitious in some area of life. Some of us have ambitions that have nothing to do with career or money or even family. You may find that a hobby or self-development is vocation enough for you. That's another reason not to worry if you hit 30 or 40 or 50 and still haven't figured out what to do with your life. Chances are, you've been doing what you were meant to do all along; it just doesn't have anything to do with a career or college degree.


Tim said...

I don't worry, I just feel somewhat out of place. I think at this point and age in my life, the only ambitions I have in life is make sure there's enough money in the house and to secure a good education for my children once they decide if they want to go to university or otherwise.

That, and I want to have enough money to travel and be lazy in my old age. :)

Keera said...

I felt out of place the first 7 years I lived in Norway (and that was after having lived here before for 7 years).

As for waiting until you're old to travel, most folks say don't; you may not live that long or have the health for it. But most Europeans don't have to wait till they retire; thanks to vacation law we get to abandon our jobs for 4-7 weeks Every. Single. Year. ;-)

Keera said...

I have to add something: I have never felt out of place except for the trying to fit in as a foreigner for a while. Else I have always felt I was in the right place at the right time (even when I didn't "get" Norway). I'm a non-conformist but I've never felt like I don't belong. I really like living on planet Earth.

Paula said...

I don't fit in Orange County, but I consider that a positive. Last night I went to a writers' group meeting at a Barnes & Noble in Long Beach. Amazing what good things can happen once you cross over the L.A. county line.

Keera said...

I'll never be a full-blown Norwegian, but that's OK. I was a non-conformist in California, too. As a native of L.A. County I'm rather pleased you like crossing the county line. :-)

Manuj said...

hii, thankss for the post good 2 know smne feels or fekt the same way smtime, i was thinkin the same all my frnds hav some dreams of becoming entrepenuers or doing masters frm this univ or that , but i hav very vague dreams more or less fantasies, so i was like why dont i get motivated by the usual stuff , but ok i will go back to making each day count and leave the rest, i too am a bigtime non conformist , with the lingering "WHY" should i do this or that......thanks again , have a great day :)

Keera Ann Fox said...

Non-conformists can't conform. :-) Thanks for reading and commenting, Manuj.