Being an adult is full of big decisions and life-altering choices. Positive outcomes are as easily attainable as negative ones but as you grow older these decisions cannot be made by anyone else but yourself.
Your parents, friends, significant others, or anyone else you come across can’t tell you how to lead a happy life. Only you can decide your happiness because it is you who get to define what your bliss is.
I am currently in a transitional phase where I feel like I should have it all figured out by now, have a clear vision of where my life is headed and have a solid career foundation set. But I don’t.
Every plan I have made so far for my life after college as crumbled and I have taken a different path. My idea of what I thought I wanted out of relationships, my career, family, what place I call home and what I should have accomplished so far has changed about 500 times (dramatic, yes that was, but untrue, no). And that it is ok, I just had to learn to roll with the punches and stay vigilant.
They say listening to your gut is usually the best way to make decisions. I was wary of this because well I am a realist. I am an optimist at heart but a realist in mind. I plan, I analyze and I organize, even when these plans continue to change. I always have a plan B (and C, D, E, and F).
So when my plans change so do my intuitions. My gut has been largely something I have ignored until recently.
Adulting is Hard
A friend and I were talking about where we are at our age and what we want out of life. I need to make some decisions about jobs I am waiting to hear back from and where I want to relocate aka my mind is about to explode from all of this adulting. I said my gut keeps telling me the same thing to my friend. So is this a sign? Should I just hone in on what my gut says even if the realist in me is screaming in the background?
Sure, you can choose to eat ice cream for dinner or stay in pajamas all day as an adult, but the hardest part of being an adult I think is making decisions about your professional and personal life.
I have so many Venn diagrams in my head that I dream about pros and cons but trying to understand my priorities for where I am in life is a good starting point. Each life option has pros and cons, positives and negatives, and analyzing these can be difficult.
This feels like a lot of pressure though. Every choice you make feeds into your future from a professional and personal standpoint. Where you live, what major you choose in college, what jobs you choose to apply for and what job offers you choose to accept define many factors in your life.
We all have dreams and aspirations. We each have a personal definition of happiness. The trick is how to make dreams a reality and truly capture our happiness.
There is no easy path to understanding our personal definitions of happiness and this definition will more than likely change, which is totally fine. I have been trying to be more in tune of what makes me happy so I can ‘follow my bliss’ as a friend would always tell me.
Surround Yourself with Strong People
Reminding myself of the good, strong and positive people in my life has been paramount in keeping my chin up and having faith that will figure out my next step in life. If there has ever been a time that I have felt so alone, it has been during the job hunting process of mine. Remind yourself who these people are in your life.
I have been reminded how many past professors, bosses, coworkers, friends and family I have in my life. Anyone older (or heck even younger, depending on their life experiences) than you can offer life advice or ‘what would you do in this situation?’ advice to give you a fresh perspective on your situation or offer personal experiences that could help you along the way.
I have gotten closer to the people in my life by opening up and some of the best advice I have gotten was from the most unexpected sources. My solid foundation of people I can turn to for their thoughts has been such a positive driving force and helped me feel more confident when making final decisions.
Listening to my Gut: Do it
I thought about the last time I followed my gut and what the outcome was. Most recently, I followed my gut when I went to Spain to be an Au pair for a year. I kept thinking I have college degrees and I want to make beds and prepare after-school snacks instead of getting a salary position I was qualified for in my field? And at that moment, I did want to do just that if it meant I could live abroad, gain a second language and travel Europe. I had the best experience of my life abroad and wouldn’t change it for anything. I analyzed my priorities and found that travel was my number one.
The other times I had listened to my gut was at the end of a romantic relationship. Somehow my gut knew when the end was near when the flame went out and the chemistry fell flat between someone. How? I don’t know but once I had that feeling, I knew it was time to move on, no matter how difficult. And in the end, the other person felt the same way too so the feelings were mutual. Breakups suck regardless but knowing deep down that they are right (maybe not at the time but in retrospect) is a healthy step to emotional recovery.
My travels have taught me many lessons but taking life day by day has been the main lesson I have learned. Life changes and with more changes you become resilient to being thrown off course. I have had many well-planned life itineraries but still my spontaneous decisions and following my gut have yet to disappoint. Because life changes it is good to have a few backup plans ready but generally if your gut is telling you what you really want you will end up chasing your true happiness in the end.