My most secret fear, at least according to my zodiac sign, is the fear of making decisions.
Well that's not so secret to me and it’s taken a long time to feel comfortable about it. Actually, that’s not entirely true. But it’s a good place to start.
Have you ever been asked the question "what is your dream job?"
Last week I was asked four times. FOUR TIMES.
And each time my response was enthusiastic but different, and delivered more like the answer to a game show question: An anchor! A freelance journalist who travels the world! A news reporter! Ooh, ooh, I got it: host of my own show!
But the only answer that actually felt right was: I don't know.
I don’t know if there is one job for me.
But when I say that, I am met with the same look I get when people ask me when I’m getting married or when I plan on having kids, like they know something I don’t about the way life works, like they have The Checklist in their back pocket and are ready to whip it out and say “the clock is ticking” as if that is a perfectly reasonable response.
And that's when I wonder if I could be using my time machine more effectively. Perhaps, to avoid conversations like this.
Yes, some people have one goal in mind and they pursue that goal like an arrow. I operate more like an explosion: pieces of myself flung every which way, some that will miss the mark and others that will hit a bull’s-eye.
But don’t confuse my shrapnel-like indecisiveness for idleness.
The decisions I have made consist of waking up every day and putting many wheels in motion. I’m interested in so many things that I have a hard time imagining myself doing one thing, let alone the same thing every day.
When I do become interested in something, it's all consuming. Opportunities have lead to fulfilling jobs because I say yes. I lean in. I want it all.
And the thing is, I become pretty good at whatever it is I’m doing.
I start to get bored. And I go on to learn something else.
Last month I was absolutely sure I needed to learn astronomy to improve my writing. Before that I was studying to be a Scrabble champion. And before that? It was time to write a book.
It's all been within the realm of journalism, but it's always changing, an ebb and flow branching back to my childhood.
At six-years-old, I was so feverish to write that when my mom gifted me an old typewriter, and that typewriter ran out of paper, I tried to jam cardboard into it so I could keep writing.
The tendency to become a momentary expert of something before its abrupt abandonment doesn't give me any anxiety. What does, is when I'm asked the question over and over again: what’s your dream job?
By now, I think you know why this question is problematic.
I feel like I am merrily floating down the river of life, enjoying the variety of opportunities coming my way, when someone puts a waterfall up ahead and tells me if I don’t decide by 30 exactly what it is I want to do, I will go over the edge and it will be too late. I’ll be just another story of wasted potential, someone who could have been something great but just couldn’t commit to THE DREAM.
I worry that there is something wrong with me, that I will fall behind because I can't decide on that ONE THING, I can't declare to the world in big shiny lights, ta-da, drum roll, that my career choice is...
What is your dream job?
Life suddenly becomes a game of snakes and ladders and I'm slipping because I'm not working towards ONE THING.
I recently read an article that said you are the designer of your own destiny, and that you get to decide, you must decide, because if you don’t, someone else will. Indecision, it said, is a bad decision.
You know what I think about that?
I think your idea of destiny is bullshit. The idea that we need to figure out our one path, our one true calling, and ride it out until retirement drives me crazy.
It’s those expectations that ruin potential.
I thought that maybe one day there would be this magical fork in the road that would force me to make a concrete decision: do you want to go this way or that way?
Even now at the age of twenty-six, I have encountered no such fork.
But after getting asked so many times about this “dream job," I started to think that maybe I couldn’thave it all. Maybe I had to choose one door. Walk one path. A stable 9-5 might make me happy. A job title without a slash. Consistency. A steady paycheque. Maybe it's time to put that one chosen career up high like a star on top of a Christmas tree and spend my life figuring out how to get there.
But why can’t I have it all, try it all, be it all? What if a career is more like floating down a river than it is climbing up a ladder?
Maybe instead of asking what my dream job is, ask me if I’m happy? So long as the answer is yes, then I don’t see a problem.
Because I don’t have a fear of making a decision, I have a fear of ending up as someone I’m not because I thought I had to.