To know, you must do

We’re told as we grow up by our parents, teachers, coaches and friends, that we must learn from our mistakes and that our knowledge comes from experiences. You know the old saying, “If at first you don’t success, try, try again.” But sometimes it isn’t always clear when we should try something, or when we should stick with what makes us feel safe. If we’re still unsure about what it is that we want, is it worth quitting and going somewhere else? What if that doesn’t turn out to be what we wanted either?

I think that recent graduates feel this the most. When I was deciding about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go after graduation, my parents continually told me that it’s OK to mess up, it’s OK to fail something. But I wasn’t a failure, I wanted to say. I used to get upset when I got a B on a report card, so how could I deal with moving to a big city and maybe failing at a job or failing at life in general? Months later, I obviously haven’t failed. Sure, I worried at first about finding a place to live, making the rent, and getting a job. Now that I have a job and an apartment and friends, I think about next steps.

When is it OK to move on and find something else? Is there a certain time you’re supposed to stay at one thing before trying another? Recently, a close co-worker announced she was leaving right before her wedding, to pursue interior design and art. It was her passion, what really fired her up. PR was not her thing. Everyone loved that she was making a choice that suited her better. But she had also been there for almost two years. What happens when you know only after a few months that something isn’t for you? And how do you know if it’s the work you’re doing, or the people you work with, or the organizational structure? Another friend wants to leave his still new job after the elections and work on the Hill. He’s only been at his organization since June, yet he’s making plans already.

In D.C. we hear more than anywhere else that you don’t have to stay in one place for any amount of time, if you find something better. But that doesn’t mean it’s still easy to leave. The little voice in our ears says “Give it time,” or “Wait a year.” Or it asks “Do you even know what you want?” We’re often expected to know exactly what we want to do and where we want to be next month, in five years, and in 20. But why do we have to know? Why can’t we just try a bunch of things and then decide? You read everyday about people who up and quit their 20-year job to start their own business, based on what they love to do. Or there are high-schoolers who drop out because their bedroom Web business is already making millions.

I think we should be able to try a few times before figuring things out. Because if we only give ourselves a couple of chances, and if we restrict ourselves by time, we could end up stuck. Final word: While you’re young and have no obligations (or heck, if you’re older and miserable where you are), go do what you want, when you want and where you want. It’s your life.


One thought on “To know, you must do

  1. Hey lady,

    I really enjoyed reading through your site –it’s quite interesting (and not just b/c I was anonymously featured in a posting!) Your thoughts and observations are interesting –i like one of your earlier posts where you mention that it takes 21 days to make a habit and one day to break it. I’m trying to start some habits like studying Spanish everyday, so it’s a nice reminder to work on sticking to it!


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