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Motivation Hesitation

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I was at a party on Friday.

I was at a party on Friday for fourteen hours.

That’s a lot of hours to spend at a party. It affords you the time to talk to people, to get into conversations you might otherwise not have had. It’s more than enough time to get comfortable with the idea of introducing yourself to everybody there, because after three West Coast Coolers and every red and purple gummy frog from the jar I was hyped up on the kind of sugar high it takes days to come down from.

I’m hardcore, I know.

It was the best kind of party, bringing together a mix of people I’ve known for most of my life and just enough total strangers to make things interesting. Whenever I needed a breather I snuck into the kitchen to play with the dogs. At one point I asked a stranger if I could touch his hair (very soft). There was a gin bar at the back of the room which had transformed Good Friday into A Truly Great Friday, and a number of people were twirling and swaying in front of it to the sound of throwback tunes from the nineties.

At one point in the evening I took too long a break between sugary snacks and experienced an energy slump that led me straight to the couch, where I sat next to the guy who was aggressively controlling the Spotify playlist. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye.

“Watch this,” he said.

Without warning, he switched the song. The brief pause in the music elicited howls of outrage from the dancers, and they all turned as one to glare accusingly. Then, as if by magic, the frowns of drunken disapproval dissolved as the opening strains of the hit classic Reach For The Stars started up. Hands were flung in the air and the twirling intensified as the group threw themselves into enthusiastic performances of interpretive dance.

The guy next to me chuckled. “I love that.”

Half a minute later he had scrolled down and stopped the music again. Heads swivelled in our direction. I considered moving seat to avoid the censure of the crowd. I settled for mouthing ‘it wasn’t me‘ and leaning away to avoid getting stabbed by a violently flung stiletto. Then Backstreet’s Back started up and the room erupted in a chorus of “EVERYBOOOOODAAAYYYYAYYYY!”

“Isn’t that great?” He muttered under his breath.

I could see the appeal. Each song elicited reactions from different people, and watching the animated responses to the musical cues was extremely gratifying. Some refused to dance to Destiny’s Child, while happily rapping every lyric to Smash Mouth. Others got rabid about Sugababes, while walking out in protest during Steps.

It was a polemic playlist, to say the least.

I sat back and enjoyed watching gin and tonics spill to the beat like miniature versions of the Bellagio fountains. Everyone had different songs they would respond to; everybody moved to a different beat. I guess that’s true in a larger sense, too. People are motivated by different things, and I couldn’t help thinking about this as I curled up on the couch next to this musical manipulator.

The other day, a reader pointed out that although my bio reads that I’m as confused as ever, I haven’t actually written about my confusion at all. I haven’t explained what it is that keeps me up at night, wide-eyed, wondering why I don’t have my manual explaining the fifteen easy steps to a rewarding adulthood.

The truth is, I don’t really know what I’m doing most of the time.

Part of it is work-related. Currently I ghostwrite articles for whoever will buy them, I transcribe interviews and dictations to keep my typing speed up, and I’m doing a postgrad diploma in digital marketing. When I speak to people who have always known what they wanted to do, and have stubbornly and single-mindedly pursued that goal, I feel like I’m missing something. I feel like a defective model that slipped past quality control, like I’ve been skipping past songs my entire life hoping to find the one tune that gets me moving, but so far I haven’t found it.

I need to find my metaphorical Smash Mouth’s All Star.

There are other things that keep me wrong-footed, searching for balance, but that is by far my biggest source of insecurity. I’m passable at a number of things, but don’t feel like I excel in anything in particular. Before it got truncated, the phrase used to be, “Jack of all trades and master of none is oftentimes better than master of one” … but I don’t think that really applies in this day and age, when you need a degree and five years of experience to even get an internship.

I wish I had a manual to tell me what I’m supposed to do. I wish I could buy a five-year plan off a shelf somewhere, or inject myself with a shot of ambition. I wish someone could look at my life and my experiences and my successes and failures and point at whatever it is I’m missing and tell me, “This. This is what you should do. This is what you would be great at. This is what would make you feel successful.”

I wish there was an amateur DJ with a song lined up that would get me going.

0 thoughts on “Motivation Hesitation

  1. I empathize with you on this one. I’ve got my degree. I’ve got a good enough job, but I feel like something is missing. Growing up, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always: happy. I feel like I’ve achieved this goal, but I feel like I should be doing something more with my life, but what, I don’t know.

    1. Yes! This is exactly it! I’ve always been motivated by happiness and earning enough to allow me to be happy, but… I’m not happy when I’m doing something I feel I’m not good at, and I’m not sure I’m good enough at anything to make it a full on job. So. I feel stuck.

      1. Well if you find the answer, I look forward to reading about it and following your lead. I’ll keep you posted if I figure it out too. For the time being, I suppose we just keep on keepin’ on.

  2. You have to be your own DJ. How old are you? I’m guessing that you’re in your early 20’s, since you think 90’s music is oldies. You’ve got time. You’ve traveled a bunch, right? All the things you’ve seen, there’s nothing that struck a chord? This tends to be a microwave society any more, things have to happen right now. Life doesn’t always work that way. You’re in post-graduate work? I’d assume that’s where your career will lie. If not, why do it?

  3. Some things I know, some things I don’t, but what’s comforting is at least knowing what I don’t know. So that boils down to…it’s important to find an anchor in at least some things, whatever they may be. Passions, interests, musical tastes, anything to tie yourself down. And what you don’t know, know that you don’t so at least you’re asking the right questions. ‘What am I going to do as a career’ ‘what/who/why/where/when am I looking for’ For example, I don’t know what Reach for the Stars is. But I do know that the mere thought of a 14 hour party already has be breaking out in hives.

      1. YOOOOOOOOOOO! IT’S S CLUB 7?! I used to watch their show. Holy crap. Never Had a Dream Come True. Bring It All Back. But yeah I never heard this one for some reason. Oh my god. It’s Friday at work, my boss is already gone, I’m skipping up and down the halls.

  4. “I’m passable at a number of things, but don’t feel like I excel in anything in particular.” I’m with you on that. I also feel like I’m missing something when I see so many people fixated on attaining one job/goal for so long. Like, how do they know?

  5. I feel like I have a similar problem: I want to do ALL THE THINGS and I can never find the time. I get really passionate about all sorts of projects, my job, writing, crocheting, reading, etc, and then I end up burning out because I can’t balance it all properly. It’s exhausting.

  6. “Currently I ghostwrite articles for whoever will buy them, I transcribe interviews and dictations to keep my typing speed up” – I’m so jealous! I’d love to do that kind of work for a while!

  7. I’m nearly 50 and I still don’t know what I want to be so I dabble 😂 I used to feel quite lost now I feel happy. It’s like wearing hats you get to try on so many hats to find one that fits. The fun is in the trying 😊

  8. I remember having your feel so well when I was your age, I felt like I was searching for something but didn’t know what. I always achieved well in any jobs but they did not fulfil me as a person. It is only now after discovering painting and a good 3rd husband 😊 that I am now feeling fulfilled…… I blame my mother 😬😉☹️😉

  9. I loved that manipulative Spotify dj! That is me. I’ve ad hoc dj’d many events with my phone and a dj app. It’s addictively fun to manipulate drunk people through music. I try not to let a pause happen but I also try not to let anyone leave. Having people come up to you and tell you how awesome you are is great too. Like yeah, I know, I figured out how to play Pour Some Sugar On Me when you thought it might be time to take a break. Now get back out there before I have to spin some JT. And hang in there – Journey is queued up just before I shut it down. It’s so fun! People are hilarious.

    Thanks for that really funny view into that world again.

  10. I posted about this back in August last year after my Mr pointed out that I’m not passionate about anything career/hobby wise! I’m still not 😏….

  11. Can’t really offer much advice or direction on this one Quinn, but I’m happy to share what puts huge smiles on my face and what brings ME happiness, purpose, and motivation. One of my favorite quotes about life-pursuits is from Ralph Waldo Emerson… 🙂

    Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

    Don’t stop doing all your experiments! Stay intensely curious! Next? Be brave! Cue song & random dancing!…

    https://youtu.be/QUQsqBqxoR4

    Seriously, I think you’re doing pretty damn good so far. 😉 <3

  12. I’d like to share a small anecdote. Here in India, you’re supposed to pick whether you want to take maths or biological sciences after tenth grade. This is in addition to chemistry and physics which are common to both courses. The thing is, my hatred or rather fear of maths, is pretty deep seated and I was left with only one choice. Biology. Now with that out of the way, it all came down to my ambition. Frankly, I never had one. Not JUST one, to be more specific. For several reasons, I narrowed it down to becoming a doctor. Like you mentioned, there are people in my class who have dreamt of being cardiologists and God knows what other -ologists ever since they were out of their mother’s birth canal and here I am, barely able to decide what I should do the next hour. On my first day of med school, we were asked why we wanted to become doctors and everyone gave the most socially apt answers or the most thoughtful answers like wanting to serve the people of the nation, being noble blah blah blah. I didn’t feel like saying I chose it because I hated math so I went with the generic “I love helping people” answer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the course but I seriously don’t know what to specialise in or why I want to do it.

  13. Girl, you DO have it all figured out. Just the same as anyone else. I feel you are very much yourself and you seem to live a beautiful life. There’s no grand answer to our existence or how we turn out or where we end up. Life is all about the – and what you do with it. Making the most of it, in whatever way that you can. You ARE doing that. Why live life to one song when you can have a playlist that changes to the beat of your journey?

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