“What do you want to do in life?” My biggest fear is having to answer this question. My twin sister answers it with ease. Being twins, we’re obviously the same age, so we’ve had the same amount of time on this Earth to come up with an answer to this question. Clearly then, time isn’t the independent variable in this equation. I don’t know why we both couldn’t have woken up one day with a light bulb above our heads.
“I want to go to film school in California so that I can live by the ocean and be a screenwriter. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be a biochemical engineer,” my sister answers in one breath. Her plan seems unrealistic, until she explains her web of filmmaking classes and independent studies, acting courses on top of AP Biology classes, that seem to have been worked seamlessly into her schedule. In reality, her meticulous plan wasn’t easy to configure. My sister worked through emails upon emails, meeting upon meeting, and summer school to achieve the arrangement of courses that will create the yellow brick road to her dream occupation.
Me, on the other hand— I can’t even decide what I want from the sushi menu at dinner. Faced with any decision, especially about my future, and I shut down. At a time when I’m preparing to make choices involving hopes and dreams, colleges and majors, my indecision is an issue. One day I think I should study psychology, the next I think I want to write, the day after that I want to own an overnight camp and live in the woods. I can’t even decide who is the more “normal” one in this scenario, my decisive sister or wishy-washy me.
“Work hard, and you can achieve it,” says pretty much every teacher, college counselor, or parent ever. “How am I supposed to work hard if I don’t even know what I’m working for?” I think. I can’t strive for it if I don’t know what it is. It’s not fair, I think. Why do some people get to know what they want to do and not others?
It seems to me that the people who know what they want to do from the beginning have an overarching better shot at life. The sooner you know it, the sooner you can work toward it, the sooner you can achieve it, right? I yearn to have a passion, something that makes me hungry, something that makes me work toward a specific outcome, an it. It’s the lack of knowing that triggers my fear. The “up-in-the-airness” of no plan is scary.
Which is why, most likely, I am freaked out by the cannabis stock that my grandfather bought for my sister and me a week ago. “I’m telling you,” he said at dinner, “this stuff is gonna be big. Just hang onto it for a little while.” So, in addition to questioning the legality of the purchase as well as my existence, I spent the past week watching the price of my weed stock on my iPhone app. It kept rising.
“Do you want to sell it?” my grandfather now asks us at dinner this week. I have no idea. I don’t know about stocks in general, let alone cannabis stocks. And I don’t know about me. Am I striving for millions and going for broke? Or am I playing it safe and cashing in now so that at least I come away with something? My twin sister, of course, knows what she wants to do. She’s in it for the long haul.
So is my grandpa. “Let it sit,” he advises me. “It’ll go up, it’ll go down. Just take it day-by-day. See how it goes and see how you feel. Eventually a day will come and you’ll know what to do with it. It’s a gamble, play the game.”
I agreed to let it ride. Not that it’s easy. Not that I don’t check the price of the stock constantly and wonder if I’m doing the right thing. But, I’m practicing living with the unknown. I realize now that my grandpa’s lesson on pot stock, of all things, is a lesson on life. Life is risky, unpredictable. Even if I, like my sister, knew what kind of game I wanted to play, there’s no guarantee of the outcome. Simply having an it doesn’t guarantee success.
And, just because I don’t know what my aspiration is, just because I don’t have an it, doesn’t mean I’m not in the game, striving for something. Maybe my it, right now, is just to figure out my it. Maybe it’s good to not have a plan, to let myself exist, and see how I feel. Life, like my stock, is a ride, and I just have to be okay with letting my hand play out.
One day I’ll know, the answer might even become obvious. But until then, when people ask, “What do you want to do in life,” instead of freaking out and questioning God’s purpose for placing me on this Earth, I’ll just rephrase the question in my brain: “What do you want to do with your cannabis stock?” “I’m not sure yet,” I’ll answer. “I’m taking it day by day.”
Lilly is a junior at Highland Park High School. She is a hip-hop dancer, a water-skier, a writer, and a twin. Her play, What Happens In Springfield, was performed at this year’s Short Play Festival at school. She lives in Highland Park, which is a suburb of Chicago, with her parents, her sister and her dog, Pickles.