Q. Dear Jordan,
I’m so embarrassed that this is the way I’m choosing to introduce myself to you, but hey: Desperate Times, meet Desperate Measures. It seems like most of your readers write to ask about weddings (fun!) and recipes (super fun!) and bras (kinda fun?), so my holy-shit-what-do-I-do-with-my-life email to someone I really don’t know seems kind of insane. But, Jordan? Holy shit, what do I do with my life?
I graduated from college last May with the ever-financially-rewarding degree in English and have, since then, been working in the office of the business my mom created. I’ve also applied to grad school – all Creative Writing programs that have less than 1% acceptance rates – and rekindled a terribly inconvenient relationship with my first love.
I really don’t know why I’m writing; I’m not the kind of person who contacts random lifestyle hosts/bloggers/new mothers for Major Life Advice, but I guess my reasoning was a bit of this: I’ve seen you build something – Ramshackle Glam – and I know from what you’ve written that you pursued lots of different avenues before settling into where you are now. So I guess I figured that maybe you’d be able to give me some advice?
I think the problem is that we’re all raised to believe we’re exceptional and that we can and should do exceptional things. I mean, how do you know what you are Meant To Do? Are you meant to do it if all the “doors of opportunity” in that direction are closing in your face?
I know you’re a new mom, and if all you have time for is a “Get yourself together, girl,” I’ll not only perfectly understand, I’ll actually try to, like, you know, get myself together.
Lots of love,
A. Ah, Meghan, I just woke up and read part of this email to Kendrick while having coffee, and he said, “Huh. That sounds like an email that you would have written three years ago.” To the word. Three years ago, I was working at a job I didn’t even come close to feeling was right for me (or enjoy), applying to grad schools just because I wasn’t sure what else to do, and wondering…you know, “Holy shit, what do I do with my life?” Crying about where things were headed all the time, because I felt like I had been given so many extraordinary opportunities…and then there I was, doing a whole lot of nothing at all.
It’s tough to give concrete advice here because the truth is that when it comes down to it part (not all) of the process of arriving at what you want to do depends on luck, chance, whatever you want to call it – especially when you haven’t set out upon a conventional road (get degree –> get job –> get promotion). But it’s so important to keep your eyes open to the opportunities life throws at you – don’t ignore those bits of luck or twists of fate when they come your way, because they will, especially if you keep pushing yourself to explore different directions. Be open-minded. What you are Meant To Do might be a thing you never even considered…but that thing might make you happier than anything you had ever imagined, so don’t ignore it when it shows up knocking.
I can say that I think going to school is an excellent idea. I did about 1/3 of a Master’s in Hospitality (I know; I was having a crisis, like I said), and while it was a very expensive moment of career confusion that I’ll be paying for for the next, oh, twenty years, it also got me all excited and inspired, and energized me to the point where I was able to see new possibilities…and that time period directly resulted in what I’m doing today.
Keep trying things, and follow through. Did you know that no one follows through? I remember when we were shopping around the pilot for Sunny, no one could believe that we’d actually just gone ahead and done it. Every actor/director/writer we knew was always announcing his or her plans to shoot their own pilot and shop it to networks…but no one did. They just talked about doing it.
It’s one of the great secrets of life: everyone talks and talks about all the things they’re going to do, and very few people actually do them. And those who do just blow everyone away.
Really, I hear you: I know that this feeling of wanting to do something and not knowing how to go about doing it is just crushing. Almost the worst feeling, the sense that you’re wasting time and wasting all those opportunities that you’ve been given. But you’re not, and you haven’t. What you’re going through is an absolutely crucial part of the growing-up process that smart, creative people with enormous dreams and capabilities go through – or at least that’s been my experience from watching those around me.
I don’t want to suggest that I have it all figured out – of course not, not at all. But I do know that I used to feel just as you do, and I also know both that it’s very, very difficult, and that it will not last forever, not if you keep your eyes open to the possibilities around you.
Look: if you didn’t care so much, you wouldn’t feel this way. And it’s because you care that you’ll put in the work to change your situation, and to do great things.
And that’s not making you feel better – that’s just the truth.
Lots of love,
*Reader email edited and reprinted with reader permission.