Here’s a very interesting query I received from a friend on behalf of her daughter. Perhaps you’ve felt like this. Perhaps this was you when you were her age. Perhaps I have some advice.
“My daughter will soon be 28 and she is applying to a PhD program at a prestigious Midwestern university in the area of human development. But in the meantime, she is grappling with the, “I’m-28-and-is-this-all-there-is?” thoughts about life.
She has had very responsible jobs since graduating from college at age 20. She spent two plus years, in the Peace Corps as an AIDS educator in Swaziland. She has been a successful writer and blogger on gender/sexuality issues. She has self-published two books this year and the first reached #1 in two of Amazon’s categories for a couple weeks. She is a blog editor of a widely-read blog at a well-regarded site in her niche industry. For two years she was a columnist for a Chicago newspaper. There’s a bunch of other things she’s done including speaking and guest lecturing at colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. She knows I’m writing to you. If you have any suggestions, we would both be most grateful!”
And the question before us today is, “Is this all there is to life?”. Pretty simple. Yes. This is all there is. This is your life. But it sounds like she has made it an incredibly interesting one so far. Graduated college at 20. Peace Corps. Published author. Blog editor. Many 28-year-olds would give up their iPhone to have such a life. But she’s not done. Not by a long shot. Now she’s taking on her next challenge, committing to getting her PhD.
So I’m sorry, but have I missed something? Would she rather be sipping Stoli in Gstaad with czarinas doing lines of coke? I doubt it, but people think that’s glamorous. It’s not. Believe me, I know it without trying it. And it’s not her. She is crafting a life. It’s a lifelong task. Many people who get to be 28 think they should have it all figured out by now. I’m 57 and I’ve almost got some of it figured out. But whenever I think I can file something away as “Done”, something changes and I’m not done.
We’re never done. My father-in-law just turned 100. He’s not done. He’s still figuring things out. He reads constantly. History, biographies, science journals, Popular Mechanics, National Geographic. And this man never went to college because he graduated high school in June of 1930. And he’s the wisest man I’ve ever known. Because he’s spent a life crafting a life, learning how to live his life, and never thinking it was going to get easier. Just more challenging.
Challenges are good. They keep us young, they keep us on our toes, they keep us alive. Yes, my dear 28 year old wunderkind, this is all there is. And it’s a lot. Be thankful for it. Because the world is thankful for you even if it doesn’t express it much.
Keep giving, cause you’ve got a lot to give.
Keep learning, cause you’ve got a lot to learn.
Keep writing, cause you’ve got a lot to say, and you say it well. There are too many people who have no idea what they’re talking about and we can’t shut them up.
And keep questioning, because the search for meaning starts there.
Only the best,