28, whiskey & cheese, running & writing

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I turned 28 last week and was back home in Atlanta the weekend before. On the way to the airport, my mom asked, “So, what do you think about being 28?” I knew what she was getting at. “What, like I’m supposed to know what I’m doing with my life by now?” I retorted, laughing. “Yeah, exactly. So what are you doing?” *pause* “No, I’m just teasing. Looking back on my life, I don’t think I was truly mature and knew what I was doing until I was in my 30s” (In some ways it makes sense, but I kind of think she was just saying so to be nice…)

On my actual birthday, I went to a class on whiskey and cheese pairings with a friend. It was incredible how much both the whiskey and cheese experts knew, and how much there was to know about whiskey and cheese — what kind of grass to feed a cow that will be used for a particular type of cheese, different methods of smoking cheese and why, which whiskeys come from which distilleries, how climate affects the aging process of whiskey, the history of Japanese whiskey, and on and on and on.

In an earlier post, I commented on what I would describe as my case of “career A.D.D.” — a mix of 13 different full-time or odd-jobs in the past five years. I was taken back and impressed by the ability of the cheese and whiskey buffs to become so knowledgeable on one single topic.

And then I came across an article about passion and motivation on Buffer, about how embracing boredom is actually a key to staying motivated:

“Most of the time people talk about getting motivated and “amped up” to work on their goals. Whether it’s business or sports or art, you will commonly hear people say things like, “it all comes down to having enough passion.”

As a result, I think many people get depressed when they lose focus or motivation because they think that successful people have some unstoppable passion and willpower that they seem to be missing. But that’s exactly the opposite of what this coach was saying.

Instead, he was saying that really successful people feel the same boredom and the same lack of motivation that everyone else feels. They don’t have some magic pill that makes them feel ready and inspired every day. But the difference is that the people who stick with their goals don’t let their emotions determine their actions. Top performers still find a way to show up, to work through the boredom, and to embrace the daily practice that is required to achieve their goals.”

At first, it made me feel slightly dejected when reflecting back on my somewhat haphazard career past and quite uncertain future, and the fact that I haven’t exactly embraced boredom and monotony.

And then I realized that there are in fact things that I have consistently done for the past 10+ years — running and writing. And funnily enough, what made me realize it was my Twitter bio. I change it every 6 months or so, but it’s usually been three or four descriptors:

“Runner, writer, novice capoeirista.”
“Runner, writer, sports-lover, aerospace & defense nerd.”
“Runner, writer, sports-lover, digital media junkie.”
“Runner, writer, sports-lover.”

“Runner” and “Writer” in all of them. I wouldn’t call myself an “expert” in either one, and I’m not quite making a living from them (yet). But they are things that are incorporated into my jobs and hobbies. And I really do enjoy the process, the monotony and the struggles that come with running, whether it’s training for a half marathon, giving a 4-mile running tour or just doing a few quick sprints around a track. And I really do enjoy the writing process, whether it’s going towards an 80-page thesis , 300-word blog posts, or just journaling freely.

So now I’m 28 and haven’t quite figured out what I want to be when I “grow up” yet. But as a good friend of mine once said, “Life has its own way to reach equilibrium and we should make its path easier!”

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The world is your oyster?

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What’s that stat? “The average American changes careers seven times in his or her lifetime,” or something? (Apparently there are some nuances, however.)

For the past five years, I’ve bounced around from idea to idea, pursuing the “right” career that combines personal interests, is financially sustainable, and aligns well with my own skills. Out of curiosity, I listed out all of the jobs/internships I’ve had since graduating from college and jotted down what I found appealing about them. The tally came out to 13 different positions. (Caveat: I wanted to include anything that could fall under “professional experience,” which also meant part-time or freelance/contracted positions.)

photo (3)My LinkedIn profile is a mess, I have about 10 different versions of my resume, and my poor Asian tiger mom has given up on trying to figure me out.

“The world is your oyster” is an idiom I casually throw out to others because I like the idea of having a lot of freedom and options and the sense of agency implied. But my current lack of “career goals” and dedicated direction feels pretty unsettling. Can I have an oyster in a nice, safe, controlled environment, like a fish tank or something…?

For now, I work at ASICS a few days a week, help develop original content about the e-commerce industry for a friend’s start-up (Informerly), and am revisiting a few long-form story ideas from journalism school to hopefully pitch/self-publish at some point.

*Insert pithy and useful takeaway*