The 'What Do You Want to Be' Misunderstanding

This article is a sequel and extension of one of the previous articles named ‘Self improvement is masturbation, self destruction is the answer’, you may check it out.

This thought has already been formed in my head, since I have gone through this several times, and probably so have you. So have many people who I know, who say they will be this or that or they love to do something, but the truth is they are not really doing it and it remains only on a plan level.

Into the wild - go watch it, if you haven't already

I am talking about people who say they will be video editors, rappers, designers or any other creatives, but they keep delaying to actually start doing it, because ‘they are not there yet’. People who say they love museums and theatres but actually end up in one once a year. People who post on Facebook about how cool it is to be alone and forget the world, or how romantic and intimate it is to have an anniversary dinner with their partners alone.

I am talking about the phenomenon when people rather put emphasis on convincing their environment and themselves (!!) about their identity or passion, than actually not giving a shit about what others think, and just enjoying the activity they are doing.

Yes, I think this is strongly connected with picking the right career choice, but what’s more important it influences how you shape and form your identity as well.

What do you want to be?

A question that has been asked thousand of thousands times. Some lucky people may have an answer already prepared, some don’t. Meanwhile the former is more or less clear with the things they are willing to sacrifice in terms of achieving their goals, the latter may have more freedom yet on making their decisions (even if they are seemingly direction-less), and therefore free of risking sacrificing too much for a once, many years ago determined, false, misunderstood goal.

Obviously a question can’t be wrong, but let’s have a look at why it can be a dangerous and misleading one, and how I think it should be interpreted.

The question keeps coming up since you were a little child and had absolutely no idea about the world, until you seemingly found your direction. I find it specially dangerous in the childhood, because it usually puts a completely unnecessary pressure on the questioned person.

To form a matching answer for this question we are thinking in nouns or adjectives. I want to be a doctor. I want to be a CEO. I want to be free.

Why is that a bad thing? Well, these terms are stereotyped, labelled and they are very influencing. They can easily make you place yourself in someone else’s person.

I am pretty sure many were just like me. As a naive youngster I had an idea about my career (because let’s be honest, sadly most of the time the question refers to job notions), and I pictured it. In my head the future Gabor was a kind veterinarian appreciated by fleets of women, wearing white coat, having the ‘Dr.’ title in my name and saving dogs.

But the thing is the question keeps popping up in your entire life, and it does not focus only on your job, but your personality as well. When the question ‘What do you want to be’ is formulated, you start picturing yourself with external eyes.

Would you like to be a literature enthusiast or not? Would you like to be someone who is interested in arts? Would you like to be smart and speak about the things of the world? Would you like to work from a café shop, sipping hot latte and managing your workflow on a super thin Macbook?

And the thing is, when you imagine yourself you idealize as well. A lot. In your head you are making yourself as attractive as possible.

But the truth is being a vet is not about the coat, nor being nice and attractive. The truth is I faint when I see a single drop of blood, and I am impatient therefore I am absolutely incompetent to be a vet or any kind of doctor (well, being a coder does not really help on the women thing either).

And this is the point, being someone who works on a laptop is not about resting your ass in a café shop. Loving literature is not about sitting in the window crunching shiny apples, or lying in the sunshine in the park. Being a broadly informed, smart guy is not about ranting, but the opposite; being curious and asking people.

The thing is, you actually love something only if you love it without the comforting, idealized circumstances as well. If you do not want to go to run because it rains a bit, then you actually do not really want it hard enough. The truth is, in most of these cases

you want yourself to want it, but actually you don’t want it.

You find these idealized pictures cool, and you would like to be a part of it. But when it comes to real actions, you delay. You delay because it is not that important.

But that’s fine. You do not have to love that thing. Who cares if you are not really into doing push ups or staring at paintings? Your opinion, your decision, it is you, shouldn’t be ashamed for the person who you are. Don’t lie to yourself, if you are talking more about something than actually doing it then chances are you are not really into that stuff. But that’s fine, don’t stick to something what you don’t like. Lying to yourself leads to faking, which will make you feel much more uncomfortable.

Again, the question is not wrong, but in my opinion it is not really focusing on the thing we should put emphasis on. The right question, which really points out the things which do matter and we are curious about should be:

What would you like to do?

This is the right question we should use, and ask from our children.

This question pushes you to imagine not a picture about yourself or how you think others will see you, but one where you are seeing the situation in your person. It pushes you to try out as many things as possible before you commit.

One good sign of actually loving the thing you are doing is that you don’t feel the need of demonstrating it for the world 7 days a week. Sharing the joy and success of yours with your loved ones is obviously required and one of the most human things, since success is nothing when there is no one to share it with, but why would you do it with everyone, or with people who you just met? We know demonstrating something too much most of the times means compensating something (most of the times it’s uncertainty). That’s why they say if you are doing something only for fame, you probably do not want it.

But let me get this clear: Right now I am not protesting against the internet sharing culture as it is nowadays (I will do that later). Specially not if you are working in a creative field where sharing is kind of the part of your job, so please do not get me wrong. The wrong attitude which I try to point out, is lying to yourself in a way that you want yourself to want something which is very misleading, unnatural, tiring, and chances are you will end up acting.

Drop the illusion of audience

Stop picturing yourself from an external view, and just do whatever you want, starting today. Stop planning and delaying, and using the lack of comforting circumstances as excuses. If you really want to do something, you want to do it no matter what.

In this case, it’s not what you think or want what matters, but what you are doing. You are rather what you are doing than what you picture.

I think understanding this is one step closer to be clear with your identity and be honest with yourself, which does make a huge difference.