When I was little, I wanted to be a paleontologist. In junior high, I wanted to go to DigiPen and learn to make games. In high school, I was all over the place; I spent as much time wanting to be a cardiologist as a musician. I spent my first year in college as a Psychology major, then I switched to Art, then Computer Science, then back to Art. Then I dropped out.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with my life. My entire experience of the world had been inside a classroom, and I wanted to take a step back and make some decisions based on the real world. After a series of very real jobs, I still had no better ideas of what I wanted to do, but I knew all the things I didn’t want to do. I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2010, ten years after I started college. The idea at the time was to make at least a living wage as a freelance artist, and if I wasn’t so anxious about putting myself out there, I probably could have succeeded.
I spent a few years, while in college, doing small commissions for an online gaming community, and another couple years selling adoptable virtual pets on deviantART. Both experiences taught me that my enthusiasm in the beginning is unsustainable, and that I get burnt out doing the same thing all the time. Right about the time things are really picking up, something new piques my interest and I grow to resent the current project for not giving me the free time to explore the new hobby.
At 32, I have no clearer view of the future than I did at 22. I want to learn and try so many different things. It was cute when I was little. The librarians would see the strange mix of books and say, “She’s a Renaissance girl.” It’s not so cute now, but I don’t hate it. It doesn’t bother me to live in such a state of change, but I can tell it irritates the people around me. These same people who have supported and encouraged me throughout my life now just wish I would commit to something long enough to make a career out of it. “You can be anything you want to be,” is the phrase we offer children, and they dream big. Doctors, astronauts, athletes all dedicate their lives to their specific skills, but what do you do when you can’t decide?
The comforting thing I try to remind myself is this: not every thing that will become your true passion has been invented yet. It might be up to you to have all the right random knowledge to invent something amazing late in life. It might be that you just haven’t discovered your passion yet, or you might be the one to bring an uncommon skill to the table and improve upon an existing field. The point is you don’t have to know right now. There’s no magic number, and it’s never a bad thing to know a little bit about a lot of things. Stay curious, keep learning, and get there when you get there.