I’m wondering today if maybe deciding on a career is kind of like deciding on a significant other. I have realized that when it comes to relationships, its no good to try to reason yourself into one just because it makes sense on paper and looks good to everyone else. Just as you must ask yourself, “Do I want to be with this person?” you must also ask, “Is this what I want to do with my time? Is this how I want to spend my days?” And then you have to let your gut speak. And go with it.
I think we usually know what we want.
I think when we get confused about what we want, it is because we are letting all the millions of other voices in our heads (i.e. our mother’s or father’s voice, the media’s voice, the cool kid from 8th grade’s voice) get in the way and drown out our own inner voice.
There’s a song by the Mama’s and the Papas, the chorus of which says this:
You gotta go where you wanna go, Do what you wanna do, With whoever you wanna do it with…
I used to think that was really bad advice. I used to think, as a Christian, that my essential nature, my “gut” if you will, was broken and sinful and incapable of leading me well, and that I must therefore base my decisions on “the will of God,” which, as you might imagine, is a rather difficult thing to get a real handle on. At the end of the day, it usually came down to reason and logic, the advice of those I loved and respected, an overall aim to align my actions with the principles in the Bible that seemed good and made sense, and a last desperate prayer for Divine intervention if, after all, I was headed in the wrong direction.
Now that my perspective is a little different, I think the Mamas and the Papas might have had it right.
I’m not saying reason and logic should be thrown out. I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek advise from those older and wiser. I’m not saying that, in making decisions, we needn’t think about right and wrong and remind ourselves that our actions affect many lives besides our own.
What I AM saying, and what I think the M’s & P’s were getting at, is that life is too short to not spend your precious few days doing what it is in your heart to do. My reason and logic may tell me that being an oncologist, for example, is a noble and meaningful way to spend my time, but if I am miserable doing the things that the day-to-day life of an oncologist involves, should I really be doing them?
Is it better to be helping people in a huge, tangible way and be miserable, or to be affecting fewer lives on a smaller scale and be a happy, mentally healthy person? You may have your own answer, but my gut leans toward the latter.
The point of all this is, I think we SHOULD “go with our guts.” I think my “gut” or “the still small voice” inside of me – or whatever your particular perspective leads you to call it – knows what it’s talking about. I think that, maybe, it takes you directly and instinctually to the very place that reason and logic (untainted, of course, by all the “shoulds” and “coulds” and voices of the crazy world around you) would lead you eventually.
That little voice, after all, has been with you from the beginning. Always. Through everything. It knows you like no other person will ever be able to. It knows what you really want, deep down, because what you really want deep down is who you really are.
And doesn’t it seem like a better idea to live who you really are, than to try to live the life of some other person you think you should be?
I think I’m going to be a nanny and not a teacher…at least for now…because, when I am honest with myself, that is just what I wanna do.