One of my favourite memories, as a child, involved noodle soup, laying on my bed, and a good book. I haven’t outgrown the habit of reading, but I’ve had a lot less time to put into this desire to always read more. It all stems from going to university; while a great place to learn, it’s not uncommon to hear of “reading burnout” – when recent graduates don’t want to read, as all they’ve done for four years is read, read, and read!
It’s been a little while since I’ve finished university, and my curiosity to read has grown immensely again. I read on a daily basis, but to pick up a book and sit down with it for hours is a habit I want to get back into, or at least try doing more often. So, it’s time to read a little more!
My most recent find came to me at the most opportune of times. To put it bluntly, this past month has been a rough one for me. While people – including myself – often say that “inspiration comes from within”, sometimes it helps to gain a little external perspective. That’s exactly why Seth Godin’s “What To Do When It’s Your Turn” was the perfect read for me at this given time.
In this marketing-cum-motivational book, Godin talks a lot about fear, motivation, and how to stop making excuses for your problem areas. While it’s a motivational book, Godin writes that “our need for motivation is our need for reassurance”, which is exactly right. He talks about how “writer’s block” is merely an excuse for not wanting to write. He talks about how our fear of failure has become a fear of its own, and that we use it to stop ourselves from doing the things we claim we want to do. In his words, “we are unprepared to do something for the first time, always”, and making a leap of faith is often necessary. Whether that leap of faith is a large jump or a smaller one, we still need to let ourselves live outside of our own little bubbles.
The idea that we’re often unprepared for the things that life throws at us is a major truth that I’ve come to learn over the last few weeks, if not months. We can easily take things for granted, including time. We often think we need to be prepared for every little curveball that life might throw our way. We often hear people say, “I’m not ready yet”. I’ve used those words myself, before, but I’ve come to learn one major thing: being “too ready” for something is also possible. Being “too qualified” for something leaves little room for growth. Do we ever want to always be the most knowledgable person in the room? To be the most “prepared”, when preparation is often a facade?
I don’t blame myself, or others, for often thinking we need to be prepared for everything. We’re taught, from a young age, to believe that we need to be prepared. We need to be prepared for school, then for our jobs, without necessarily leaving room for growth or any wiggle room. A lot of job postings now claim a bunch of requirements – must be young, a new grad, but with 10 years of experience in the field – for a person who doesn’t exist. There’s this mistaken idea that “preparation” is required for everything. But the truth is, we can’t prepare for everything. What we can do is be curious – relentlessly curious – and persistent. To be qualified, but in ways that are intangible as well as tangible. We can’t prepare ourselves for every next step; we can instead be prepared to take life as it comes, and to stay cool under pressure.
Godin’s book really resonated with me, as I’m sure it has with a lot of other people. It’s not meant to be a source of inspiration or motivation, yet it manages to be that. The book made me question myself, my motivations, my desires, and what I would actually be willing to sacrifice. After reading it, I sat down with myself, and made lists of things I needed in my life, and things I could work on. I’ve started to understand that “security” is, often times, a facade. And that sometimes, the “riskier” move can be more secure, if you play your cards right.
Not having a clear-cut path to success or to what your life is supposed to look like seems to be a lot more common than I used to think. Having read the book, though, I can’t help but wonder – is that wrong, or do we need to go through those growing pains to understand “what we want”? I’d say the latter, but what would you say?