Some days ago I mentioned a new writing project of mine to a new acquaintance. He was surprised to find out I was hoping it to turn into a book, rather than just an article. My answer was that writing is the only life direction that has ever made sense to me, the only thing I have ever been able to do properly, what I would really love to do in life. That is not entirely true.
I have always looked for the thing as though there had to be one thing. The calling. The vocation. That one and only element that gives your life meaning. We watch movies and read books on people who suddenly realise what their life is all about and start working on it night and day, non stop. They hardly sleep and each and every action in their life is driven by this passion. They never get distracted, they never lose focus. When we imagine Beethoven, we imagine him making music. When we imagine Einstein, we imagine him crunching numbers and formulas. When we imagine Shakespeare, we imagine him writing. While consuming their meals, we picture them with their mind still on their work. No going out, unless it was to maturate some new idea. No conversation, unless it was to overcome a creative block. They didn’t even go to the bathroom without a pen to scribble on toilet paper.
Now, I am aware of the existance of geniuses, or simply people with an ability to concentrate much higher than average. I even envy them at times, especially when I realise I am doing nothing about my passions and ambitions in life – which brings us back to the conversation I mentioned before: I talked about writing so passionately, and my blog has been inactive for months. But even geniuses are human. They probably don’t get depressed and give up whenever they notice they lost their focus for a while, because they know that life happens.
Anyway, after graduation I had to stop and think what my thing might be. The year after high school I enrolled in a Business bachelor, galvanised by the fact I had somehow passed the entrance test which my father had convinced me to attempt. I gave it up after one semester when it came to my mind that I hated maths and everything related to it, while I have always loved English and grammar. I entered the faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures, and graduated late with the strong feeling that, once again, I was in the wrong place. Wasn’t English my thing? And writing? But I could get into a writing career with a BA degree in English and German, couldn’t I? Where am I?
While fumbling my way out of the fog, I tried to reflect on what I discovered about myself in this rollercoaster of study and panic attacks. I love writing more than I did before, but I have also developed a marked passion for travelling and a very strong need to help others, to do something good and useful for the world. It sounds slightly lame and utopic, but it has become a central point in my attempt to figure out what I might ever do for a living. But then again I wonder, do these passions of mine have to be part of my profession? Or can I just carry on with them in my free time? What if I don’t have enough free time? Am I asking too much? Am I settling for too little?
The thing is, it probably doesn’t have to be one thing. Yes, there are people that can only see one possible direction for their life – job-wise – but we, the people with many things, have nothing to envy to them. When faced with this one-true-calling model, we feel stupid, empty, meaningless. We ask ourselves why we can’t find our way. Moreover, people like me, we not only can’t find the one thing, but we focus on something for a while, but then we switch to something else, we hardly really complete any project, and end up feeling kind of hopeless, never really good at anything.
Well, it’s not true. We are just as good, we just operate differently. How, I still have no idea of, but accepting our multi-facetedness is certainly the first step. In a society that asks us to define ourselves by fitting into groups, religions, political parties, jobs, styles, genres, even nationalities… The real act of strength and courage is accepting to be just a little bit of each, without adhering 100% to anything. We can be so many things together, why obsess to be just one? Me, I like latin music, but I don’t let it wash my whole identity and I still listen to plenty of other genres; I’m very interested in Buddhism, Yoga and the Indian culture, but I don’t go around pretending to be a holy guru; I love writing and helping others, but I also draw and take photos; I am Italian (and my Italianness is amusingly marked, I found out after spending a long time abroad), but even more than that I am a citizen of the world.
So, in conclusion… There is no conclusion. Find yourself (with all of your shades) and accept yourself, even if you are not as clear cut as somebody would prefer you to be. Accept you are always changing and evolving and then find yourself again. Find, accept, find, accept. Repeat forever.