I don’t think there was another question I was asked more often as a child. I still get that even now, only the “grow up” bit has been replaced with “graduate.” Or, if you’re the aunt who doesn’t like me all that much, you’ll replace “when” with “if.” Honestly, not my fault that your kid dropped out to be an (awesome) artist instead of a doctor. Geez.
We all face this question and its implications – what do we want to do with our lives? What do we want to commit a chunk of our life to? Oh, that dreaded word. Commitment. Added on top of our academic obligations, sleep and some semblance of a social life, this topic peeks its head up from our subconscious every so often and tells us to just decide, already.
I’ve decided. Ages ago actually.
At 5, I wanted to be a police woman. My uncle was a policeman. He was out saving people everyday. I wanted to do that too! Then I found out he almost got killed during a drug bust. Nevermind.
At 8, I wanted to be a fire woman. Then I knocked over a candle and instead of you know, putting out the fire, I cried and got mommy because, ow, the fire was hot.
At 12, I got into an argument with my grandmother and after I, if you’ll excuse my language, pwned, she said rather crossly, “If you like arguing so much, why don’t you become a lawyer?” That took my fancy and I was seriously considering a life as a beacon of justice, battling evil with wit and wisdom. Until I got a puppy.
So at 15, I wanted to be a veterinarian. My high school electives reflected that, and I volunteered at the only clinic that would take a kid not-yet-16. I spent a little over a year cleaning cages, feeding angry cats and sweeping fur off the floor. One day, the vet got me to act as his translator. He was Russian, spoke with an accent, and his clients were Chinese, who also spoke with an accent. That’s when I got to live the life of a vet for a few hours every week and I absolutely hated it. The only thing that he really did was give dogs and cats a check-up, and then he rested his leg on the table and read the newspaper while listening to the radio. Oh yeah, and once, he got to stick his finger inside the rear end of a dog that was constipated. Ewww. And monotonous. But mostly ewww.
I’ve been in limbo ever since.
It all sounds so negative, but really, it’s okay. Each time I find out something I don’t like, I actually find out what I don’t want to do. And that’s just as important as finding out what I do want to do.
A few weeks ago, I attended Careers in Psychology, a talk given by Dr. Jordan Peterson. If you have a chance to take any of his courses, do. Maps of Meaning has a retake rate of 100% on the Anti-Calendar, and Dr. Peterson himself is a four-time TVO-nominated Best Lecturer. I’m taking his Personality course, and I’ve got to say – good stuff.
Apart from finding out that I don’t want a career in academia (man, one day, through the process of elimination, I will find my calling), Dr. Peterson shared some insights that I think are applicable to everybody.
It’s about winning. Winning at life and winning at your life. You win by being smart and conscientious. It’s not about winning over a colleague, or a classmate, because if you want to compare, there will always be people who are smarter and who work harder than you (I know, ouch). You win by doing things that you love and doing them well.
Winning your life is to give meaning to your life. By doing something meaningful and fulfilling, your brain sends happy signals to itself and well, you are happy. In the end, that’s what we’re working for anyways, right? The direct or indirect goal of anything we do in life can really be traced back to making ourselves feel better, happier.
Dr. Peterson’s advice for achieving that was surprisingly simple. It boiled down to three seemingly unrelated things:
1) Find out what you want to do;
2) Eat breakfast (more protein; less sugar);
3) Wake up early, at the same time every day.
I know, it sounds too easy, right? The first one isn’t, okay, and I’m a walking testament (I agree with Lucy: explore). But apparently, there’s an online quiz where you spend 30 minutes answering questions and it will give you a list of careers you’d excel at based on your personality. As soon as I get the link I will share, because duuude, I want to know.
So why are the last two so important?
Eating breakfast starts your day with a jolt of fuel and waking up early maximizes your ability to take advantage of time. Waking up at the same time allows your body to form a habit and regulate itself and then you’re less prone to negative energy (hah, there’s the psychology bit!). Both help you to live life to the fullest.
One student then asked, “But what if you don’t like breakfast?” And you know what Dr. Peterson said?
“It doesn’t matter that you don’t like breakfast. I’m not telling you to like breakfast, I’m telling you eat it. Eat even if you’re not hungry. When you start seeing the benefits, then you’ll like breakfast!” In that case, viva la breakfast!
Rise and shine, dear readers.