To piggyback off my first post, I wanted to pay more careful attention to Oliver’s last lingering question: “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
A favorite friend and I went to brunch this morning to catch up. We chatted about our new jobs and our post-grad lives. What came out in our conversation was a sense of nervousness, growing pains, and inevitably, our thoughts beyond this year. Our long-term career goals surfaced and eventually the conversation touched on our own perceptions of the difference between happiness and prestige. There was so much out on the table at this bright little brunch we were having, and most of it wasn’t food.
To bring it back to the original question, we were really thinking and talking about what we plan to do with our one wild and precious life. This simple but daunting question is in our everyday conversations, lingering as much on our lips as it does in the last line of Mary’s stunning poem.
I think this question is particularly terrifying and exhilarating for 20 somethings. We cannot escape it; it is something family members, and friends want to know, and it’s also something that we desperately want to know. We have our whole lives ahead of us but we don’t always know what to do with it. We have SO much time, but also so little because if we do not figure out what we want soon we won’t have the forethought necessary to develop careers. Many of our ultimate dreams take years. Even though we barely feel like adults, this time in our lives is critical for setting up the REAL adult years. For me I feel like my 20’s are the years I should be using to build the foundation for the rest of my life, but I am also just getting the hang of rent payments, insurance, cable bills, and cooking.
How am I supposed to know so much about my future when it’s hard to know what I am eating for dinner tonight?
I think we all want to do and know everything right now, but the best thing to do is to do our best but also sit back a little. Aspirations and ambitions are important, but too much too fast is also overwhelming. Knowing your limits and knowing that it’s ok to take first steps instead of huge leaps can be OK and good for you. As a young professional, biting off more than you can chew just because you want your whole life plan right now can set you up for failure. Even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be, doing exactly what you want to do, it’s important to use where you are to prepare for the bigger step. Bridging the gap with a small first step can help you prepare for the next four.
Maybe instead of carving these large prestigious lives for ourselves into the future, while we are still growing and changing, we should try to find satisfaction in where we are today. Maybe we should aim to fill our moments with the everyday triumphs and take nothing for granted.
Maybe sometimes it’s ok to fill our one wild and precious life with small steps, and before we know it those steps will turn into miles.
I take comfort in this possibility and maybe you will too.