I have always been an advocate for following your passions. My mantra being, “you can do anything you set your mind too.” For the most part, in my experience, this was true. Of course, there were moments of great struggle and setbacks that would not be revisited or revised for years to come, but all things attempted were completed. Luckily for me, the tasks I accomplished were also fairly appreciated and recognized.
Regardless, as time passed, I began to think that I truly could do anything. So, I began to reach for bigger dreams, and not just the kind of things reserved for the 1% of the world who can afford to dream anything they want. I was expecting out-of-the-blue results as if I had lived completely different lives. Emphasis on ‘lives,’ plural, suggesting that I believed I had the credentials of the people I admired or the skills of all things I found even minor interest in.
Assuming that I was truly capable of anything at any given point in time was a bad idea. I was setting goals that were actually not realistic, like becoming a famous musician when I had never dedicated the proper amount of time to learning the trade. I even considered becoming a doctor and writing the MCAT when the last biology class I had taken was in twelfth grade. This was crushing to my self-esteem because my failure rate increased significantly. Honestly, though, I believed that these goals were not lofty, rather, they were the next challenge around the corner.
The bad habit of dreaming without reason led to bigger goals which meant more doubters. Only I saw the doubters as people who were against me rather than people gently reminding me that I, in fact, cannot be anything that I want to be during any moment in time.
I also believe that the caution from my friends and co-workers was really the universe reminding me that I need to focus a little bit; that I need to live with sustainable dreams.
After traveling the globe for a while, I am finally able to realize the true meaning of sustainable goals.
Additionally, because of my habit of self-discovery through pursuing literally any opportunity presented to me, I have become incredibly indecisive. In all my work experience I have lost track of what I am even good at besides being adaptable. Recently, when applying to an art program that rivals Oxford’s, I didn’t even have a proper art portfolio to submit. Which was difficult to explain considering one of my degrees is Art. Yet, somehow, I was able to wiggle my way in and secure my spot, despite not knowing what to properly do with it. This forced me to realize that I had become careless in building myself a sustainable platform. Rather, I had oversaturated myself in so much diversity that I wasn’t sure I was even able to call myself an artist. In all realizations, I wasn’t even able to call myself anything. In ‘searching for myself’ I hadn’t actually found myself as anything.
Very recently, people have begun to call me a ‘nomad.’ Which, in a polite way, is basically reminding me that I don’t have anything or any place to belong; my existence floats but doesn’t carry anything. I have finally realized that the search for ‘myself’ was really a break from who I was most commonly known to be by the people who knew me best. I wasn’t chasing dreams, I was pursuing concepts and ideas, maybe’s and what if’s. I believe that this is incredibly important — yet, I believe there are better ways to walk the path of self-discovery.
I have learned that I cannot do anything I want. I can, however, do anything I am actually capable of. Capabilities are coachable, they can grow, learn, and evolve. One day I may be capable of being a traveling musician or a brain surgeon, but right now my capabilities live elsewhere. My years of travel and experience have taught me that what I should have been exploring were the things I was good at, the little things that just made sense, rather than dreams that really were never in my reach. Second to that in importance should have been figuring out what I was willing to put time into learning, which new skills I wanted to develop, and what I could offer the goals that I have set.
Having dreams is important. Coaching your capabilities is more important. You can do anything that you put your mind too, but you cannot do everything. I will always remain curious, but I need to nurture focus. I need to nurture what I am good at so that I can figure out how to turn what I am good at into something that I love. I believe that the line between skill and passion is very fine and often ‘self-discovery,’ especially in the millennial condition, tries to tear the two. Let your skillset be your success, any way you see fit.