I Don’t Have Any Idea What I’m Doing, And That’s Fine

Ryan Fan

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

I tell people certain things about my career and my life choices, but all those are uncertain. 2019, for me, was a year of a lot of transition and flux, and as such, there’s nothing sure about what I’m going to do. I want to be a teacher for a long time, but anything can happen. I want to hold on to my relationship, but anything can happen.

Sometimes we have to content yourself with the fact that the best things in life are unplanned and complete accidents. Life is not a movie or play script — it doesn’t adhere to scripted lines and actions.

We’re all improvising, all the time. We’re imposters who fake it until we make it — which is fine, because everyone is an imposter. Traversing my way into the adult world shows me that no one has it all figured out — absolutely no one. Yes, there are people that are more skilled at whatever you want to do, but as comparison is the thief of joy, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

If you devote too much time to work, life will suffer. If you devote too much time to play, life will suffer, and as will your finances. We’re here to strike a precarious balance on this house of cards. Our house of cards that is our daily routines and structures can easily fall apart, and we have to content ourselves with that.

A lot of people care about appearances. I don’t — I acknowledge that I’m just carrying on one day at a time. I’m very grateful of being a Christian because letting go and surrendering to my higher power in God allows me to adhere to God’s plan, not my plan. My plan is subject to outside circumstances, and because I have a God that is sovereign that allows me to feel joy no matter the circumstances — anything can happen, and I’ll still have joy.

Happiness and joy are very different. I used to try to cling to happiness. I used to try very hard to be happy, and I would get down on myself and get depressed when I couldn’t maintain my emotional highs. Happiness is not a facade — don’t get me wrong. It’s real when we feel it.

But happiness wasn’t meant to stay. Human beings weren’t meant to be happy all of the time. We try to cling onto the feeling and that’s valid, but to me, the times that define us are the times we aren’t on top of the world, the times we fail, the times things aren’t going well.

I have joy based on my faith, so it’s okay that I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing. No one does, and if they say they do, it’s a lesson in self-delusion. When we act like we know everything, it’s more like we’re trying to assure ourselves rather than the people around us. We try to assure ourselves that we’re smart, worthy, and competent. And that’s just part of the process in our growth.

I don’t know is sometimes the smartest thing you can say. For me, it’s often the smartest thing I can say because being OK with those times of transition and flux, being OK with not knowing, is often where we have to be most of the time.

Am I a good writer? Am I a good friend? Am I a good brother, a good son, a good boyfriend, a good Christian? I don’t know. Sometimes yes, maybe, and sometimes no. We live today in a world ruled by extremes of certainty that our uncertainty doesn’t feel right or natural.

Whatever you feel right now, like how I feel, is valid. It’s natural, and there’s a reason why you are where you are now. Don’t invalidate your emotions because your emotions are an extension of you, and that would mean invalidating the essence of yourself. That doesn’t mean you should be ruled or governed solely by your feelings or emotions, but that you have to be comfortable where you are.

Most of the advice I give in these articles is for my audience, but more importantly, I’m speaking to myself, because these are the things I struggle with and pay attention to, or else I wouldn’t write about them in the first place.

I have no idea what I’m doing. I never have, and to some degree, I never will. And that’s fine, because the human condition is terrifying. In the words of the late literary scholar Lionel Trilling, it is one of anxiety, uncertainty, and complexity. I press on with smile because that means that things are going as they’re supposed to, and everything will be alright.

Originally published on January 5, 2020 on The Partnered Pen

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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of "The Wire," God's gift to the Earth. Support me: https://ko-fi.com/ryanfan

Baltimore, MD

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