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Self-growth

‘idk what to do with my life’ ~ An Open Journal From 19y/o Me in a Coffee Shop

A plant pot sits next to a coffee mug and french press in a coffee shop with big open windows, where I wrote a post about idk what to do with my life
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I recently found this post lost in the depths of my document archives – I wrote it one night sitting in a coffee shop, aged 19, when I was wrestling with not knowing what to do with my life (pretty high standards at age 19, eh?). I can picture the drizzly autumnal view from that café window as if it was yesterday. And from reading this post back, my view on this hasn’t really changed. I originally titled this: My goal in life is to have a long introduction – a motivational life rant, apparently leaving it around for my older self to stumble upon (thanks young me). So now that you know what you’re in for… shall we?


As someone who reads a lot about both self-growth and history, I read a lot about successful people. One thing I always take note of is their titles, and it’s struck me that, unsurprisingly, very successful people tend to have very interesting titles.

As a child, I was always infatuated with ancient discoverers. People who lived their lives purely for the pursuit of knowledge, dipping from art to politics, science, maths, literature, philosophy, religion, engineering, psychology, astronomy… Even if today we associate them with one great breakthrough, you, nor Wikipedia, can attribute just one title to any of them.

Nowadays, people are so quickly labelled that even they place themselves in little boxes, rarely bothering to look over the edge, even when they find themselves unhappy with where they’ve ended up. It’s no wonder so many of us are captivated by the romance of these people whose life’s purpose was merely centred around their curiosity. We seem to live vicariously through them, unaware that we could do the same ourselves.

There’s an attractiveness possessed by those who are curious – no matter who you are, they’ll hold you in a conversational trance and you’ll love them for it. Not just for their knowledge, but for their thirst for it. One comment will unleash hundreds more. They’re conversational hydras. Fiercely undefined and dangerously inquisitive. It’s inspiring.

So why do we curse ourselves for not having stuck a single, quintessential label to our forehead?

  • Einstein had a great interest in plumbing.
  • Copernicus wrote a book on Economics.
  • We all know about Da Vinci.

So tell me who you are.

Maybe you can answer that. Most likely not. Is that such a bad thing?

Ask most people who they are and they’ll give you a wide-eyed, deer in the headlights stare. Regardless of how content they were in themselves and their life – the uncloaked question knocks them sideways. So we make ourselves smaller with simple labels we can convey easily to others.

But when you’re asking yourself who you are, there are no distractions, no agenda to please, nowhere you can hide. So, when you’re stood in front of that mirror, asking yourself who you are, not having an answer seems like the scariest thing in the world.

I have no idea who I am.

I chose completely random subjects at school, always changing my mind on what I wanted to do – I chose what interested me and what I was good at. I don’t regret those decisions.

Upon leaving education at 18, I opted for a career that had nothing to do with the qualifications I had gained (in fact, you could say I chose quite the opposite). Instead I chose what let me experience a variety of roles, industries and interact with the widest mixture of people. I loved it.

Little did I know when I originally wrote this, that two years later I’d be readying myself to return to education, to complete a degree in a subject completely different from everything I’ve done so far. I reckon I’ll love that too.

There’s this huge misconception that being lost, changing your mind and not knowing who you are terrible, inefficient things. As a teenager, I felt a constant pressure to have an answer ready to give people when they asked what I wanted to do with my life.

You must be exceptional at your thing. That’s how it feels, but really, you probably don’t have a thing. You make a thing. And the beauty of that is, you can make as many as you’d like and you can scrap ideas just as often.

Today, I have no idea who I am, or who I want to be tomorrow, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m lost, but I’m passionate, hard-working, curious and drawn to a whole host of things. I can listen to anyone talk about (almost!) any subject, I can read, listen to and watch whatever’s available. And, if I decide they’re not for me right now, I can put them down just as quick. Being open to everything is the best way to grow, experiment and learn. The second you begin defining yourself, you’re putting yourself in a box and limiting yourself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to live my life in a box.

The second you decide you don’t like something, you’re shutting off every opportunity that something could bring to your life.

This doesn’t mean you have to love everything, but do try as many things as you can. Know what you love and want, when they come naturally, but be open to growing anyway.

Sure, the security of being certain of yourself is comforting. But, what if I told you you could be sure of the fact that you’re unsure? You can define yourself as undefined.

‘I don’t know what to do with my life’

So what? Be lost and own it.

It’s not always an easy way to live, I’ll admit. Pushing yourself is uncomfortable, but it’s rewarding beyond measure and with practice, it gets easier. You’ll learn to trust yourself, no matter the situation. And, by god, you’ll feel so much. Some good, some bad, but always so much. You’ll appreciate every second, every conversation and every song. You will fully experience everything put in front of you.

That is the beauty of it.

Fill yourself with knowledge. Read. Travel. Listen. Hypothesise. Experiment. Converse. Discover. There is so much to learn, no matter how small your world is.

And I mean that. You don’t have to go anywhere. Don’t take this as a sign to up sticks and move halfway across the world (although if that’s what you want to do, you have my full support as always). There are an infinite amount of things for you to explore in the smallest of towns or the tiniest of apartments. In fact, there’s an infinite amount of things to discover inside of your own head.

So start small.

Switch on your appreciation and curiosity for the world. Walk with your head up, take note of every tree, every person, place, sound and smell you’re surrounded by. Become an active participant in your life. Make everything romantic.

This is a change I implemented into my life a while back. I noticed that I took more notice of the world on the days I felt happier (I then figured out that it actually worked the other way round). I could even start turning anxiety into excitement, just by changing the lens I looked through. I learnt to romanticise everything, make everything magical and interesting, and suddenly my everyday life began to look like what I’d always fantasised. For a little while, it feels like a lot of effort, a little uncomfortable and a lot like you’re smiling at trees and pretending you’re in a music video. But it quickly becomes second nature. And the benefits are countless.

I’ve started remembering the entire journey from point A to point B. I’ve found myself noticing how great food tastes. I hold more interesting conversations. I’m more in-tune with my body. I remember more names. I’ve become more focussed, productive and creative. You become more interesting when you find the world more interesting.

So, when it comes to people knowing how to introduce me, I want them to pause and wonder what to call me. Not because I’m aiming to gain elite status and let the whole world know that I, with my many titles, have succeeded in life. But because I want to have live adventurous enough of life not to be tied to a single title (and hopefully have inspired some others to do the same). I want to be completely lost and wholeheartedly in love with wherever I am.

My goal in life is to have a long introduction. Simple as.

What’s captivating you right now? Love, Ella-Rose xx

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