What To Do With Your Life

What To Do With Your Life

Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday. What do I have in common with a Catholic priest? I’d just feel naked without my collar. It’s Question Tuesday, the day that I answer real question from real Nerdfighter Just the one question today: “I’m a college freshman, how do I figure out what the hell to do with my life?” Hank, we get some version of this question almost every day, but to answer the question, I have to begin by disagreeing with it. The whole “what do I do with my life?” question implies that adulthood is this monolithic creature that like, you acquire your job and your spouse, and then you just ride it out until Time’s winged chariot shows up. I thought this when I was younger too, and it’s not our fault, because how does every single happily ever after movie end? With finding your one true love and kissing them, occasionally marrying them, at the very latest having a child with them. 95% of romantic stories end with partners committing to each other, because everything after that is just the blank, terrifying morass of adulthood, this monotonous grind in which the only real excitement in your life is occasionally finding a truly ripe avocado at the grocery store. Now listen, Hank, I’m not going to lie to you, I get very excited when I find a truly ripe avocado at the grocery store but it’s not the only excitement in my life! And let me submit that one of the reasons you’re so terrified of figuring out what you’re going to do with your life is that you think you’re only going to be able to do one thing! Like if someone told you that in four years you were going to have to pick one musical note to listen to for the rest of your life, you would spend a lot of time being super anxious about which note to pick and the various tonal qualities of different notes. But that’s not what life is like! You will always be figuring out what to do with your life, and you’ll get to do lots of different things, and your decisions will be unmade by circumstance, like your wife gets a job in Kuala Lumpur, or you’re staring at the night sky one night and decide you wanna get a PhD in astrophysics Or your uncle dies and there’s no one to take over his junkyard or your little brother starts a frickin’ video conference… Just like your life now, adulthood will have all this tension between idealism and practicality, and you’ll have to balance competing desires. I mean, give yourself some credit! Even if you’re 14 or 15, you’re already kind of doing adulthood. But I think what actually scared me about choosing whether to go to school and what to study was that each time I made a decision, my options narrowed. Right, like if you’re pre-med, you’re probably not gonna be a software designer, and if you study archaeology you’re probably not going to become an electrical engineer, and there is something a little terrifying about the narrowing of those possibilities because you become aware that they will continue to narrow until you are dead. And that sucks, but here’s the other thing, if you don’t make decisions, the options still narrow! And you don’t have to do just one thing, you can be an electrical engineer who volunteers on archaeological digs! William Carlos Williams was both a poet and a doctor, Julia Child, aside from being an extraordinary chef, was also a freaking spy for the United States, I mean, Hank, if you told my college self that I’d one day be a novelist with a side gig putting my mustachioed face on the torsos of strangers, I would have been duly surprised. And you studied organic fracking chemistry before writing songs about Harry Potter. So here’s my advice: study broadly and without fear. Learn a language if you can, because that will make your life more interesting. Read a little bit every day. But most importantly, try to surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them. In the end, at least in my experience, what you do isn’t going to be nearly as interesting or important as who you do it with. And Hank, that’s why I always say that the best decision we made as videobloggers was also the first decision: to collaborate with each other. Oh, that sounds perilously close to me saying that I love my brother, so I need to cut the sentiment a little bit. I need to think of something like maybe I’ll just be like, “You have a stupid face”, or something. Yeah, that’s good. Hank, you have a stupid face. I’ll see you on Friday.

100 thoughts on “What To Do With Your Life

  1. Great video. Narrowing of choices gives me claustrophobic anxiety, but I'm battling it through.
    Yeah. It's prett old video.
    Noone here?
    H e l l o o o o o – (echo)
    Great, now I have agoraphobic anixety from being alone in very open land.

  2. Why is this video giving me my answer in life of tomorrow. (The astrophysics part kinda got me)
    But still this kinda makes me fell better of my future, and now I like John's way of saying real life better than what results I get from google

  3. Figuring out who I am is extremely difficult for me, mostly because I don't really understand 'having an identity'…
    I'm a 28yo Belgian male and I've been looking for a life that suits me for over 10 years.

    – at 14, I started as a 'flagguy' at an indoor karting, was the mechanic when I left (just Honda 250cc 4 strokes so nothing too crazy).
    -at 18, I took a chemistry class and started working at Fina (same job as Homer Simpson).
    -at 21, I started working in a restaurant.
    -at 22, i started as a windowcleaner in a company. A few months later, the same company asked me if i would like to start in their heavy duty cleaning team(suicides, murders, familydrama's)
    -at 24, I started working as a mechanic for cleaning machines ( the ones that clean supermarkets with the substractor on the back)
    -at 25, I bought a small Greek restaurant with my sister
    -at 27, i started working in the same restaurant that I worked in at 21. Then someone approached me and asked if I was interested in becoming a drone pilot. So i took the class(3000€!!!!) and just recently finished it. So now suddenly I'm also a drone pilot.
    Now at 28, a good friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to Angola, Afrika for work i don't really know yet.

    Does anyone recognize this in any way? Can you please leave a comment because I don't know anymore. It feels like I'm floating on the open sea in a stupid broken boat. Sometimes I can see an island in the distance but when I look to the right, I see a twin
    turbo V12 motorboat already heading that way… Sigh. Thank you for reading my nonsens

  4. An advice that comes that comes from someone with an IQ at least 150
    Don't listen to him
    We are no John green, we barely can do one job opimally

  5. Is Hank Green a musician?
    To me he's someone I like who lives in my Youtube app. And in Missoula. Yeah it doesn't add up…

  6. Its 3 am and I am just about to finish my freshman year in college and this made me feel a little bit better about my life so thank you for this video john

  7. "just be broad, and surround yourself with cool people and make cool things with them. " I really needed to hear that. I'm at a crucial point in my life. Forced to make big decisions.

  8. did John have a hole in his shirt? I've seen this video dozens of times and I haven't noticed it until now for some reason.

  9. Can you please write the an imperial affliction book? 😢 Been wanting to read it since I read The Fault In Our Stars!

  10. hahaha don"t mind me just started panicking as you mentioned how my options are constantly narrowing oh god. Thats the problem with existence even if I can be many things in my life theres only so much space in a life time before its over and the reality is that I will never be everything I want to be.

  11. My high school is done now and I need to choose a college and a degree to pursue, and I shit you not, the stage that I am at, the constantly narrowing options is the most terrifying thing. I seriously needed to be told that it's not only one thing that would be able to do in my life.

  12. I'm not trying to figure out what to do with the REST of my life. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life NOW. There will be a series of NOW's and I always want them to be a good choice that will make me happy.

  13. It's also why when we go to college, we are "forced" to take classes that have nothing to do with our major. Because life isn't as simple as following that one track. And quite often we find answers in the field we want to go in, in unexpected places. The more you expand your mind, the less trapped you'll wind up when life throws over-ripe artichokes at you. And to be 100% honest, at 48, I still don't know what I want to do with my life.

  14. Ahh my 14 year old self really could’ve used these videos. Regardless, happy I found them eventually

  15. Thank you! This seriously really hit home! I felt really lost when it came to any future career and now I'm not so anxious about going forward. Great video!

  16. So yes all this. I just came back to this video after a few years. A demonstration on Colbert reminded me that science (biology being my field of study) IS cool. That if I've thought otherwise, it's because I'M doing it wrong.
    And that just because I'm a scientist doesn't mean I'm not also an historian and a linguist and that I can't like music or art or mountains.
    I'm 32, and still figuring out what I'm doing with my life- and that is a good thing! The journey is the destination. ❤️

  17. That cliché about learning a new language is true. You'll understand what I mean once you start reading articles on the Internet that is NOT written in English.

  18. Hey, I was pre-med, got all my pre-reqs, and now I'm a software designer. But, now it's unlikely I'll ever be a doctor lol.

  19. I really needed this because a sophomore in college it hit me recently that "your options continue to narrow as time goes on" and am overwhelmed with the idea that my options are as broad as they'll ever be and I won't have the opportunity to choose such a wide variety of options/possibilities as time goes on. There is too much to choose from, and I'm not sure if its safety or the exact opposite I am feeling knowing and being aware of the fact I will never have the same amount of options ever again.

  20. I did not know John Green was funny 😍😍💞. Thank you for writing the fault in our stars. I'm obsessed with both the movie and the book 💓💓

  21. hey I feel personally attacked by the avocado comment but I love this video and that beginning pope joke was way too good

  22. this is spot on, SPOT ON. I'm not terrified of school or hard work or anything really except being trapped.
    So this video helped soothe me because yeah so true, we can have side hustles and hobbies and volunteer time etc. Cool. Life is cool. It's also Winter Break so I'm chilling.

  23. True. Life is one confusing mess and here i am trying to figure out which part of the web should i really get stuck with! 😀 there is God's plan. That's the ending of every story😀 nice discussion though👏👏👏

  24. This is the advice i really wish i’ve heard when i was younger, but i reached something like that ideal with myself, and i’m glad to hear it now cause i question it and myself a lot. Thank you

  25. This video completely neutralises my stress and confusion whenever I think about the future.
    It gives positive outlook on uncertainity and the assurance that everything will be alright no matter what you choose to do,if you have a right attitude towards it.

  26. Been lying awake for several nights feeling utterly helpless and shameful not knowing what I want to do with my life. This video was exactly what I needed to watch to calm down a bit:)

  27. I'm 26 and I'm still as anxious as I was when I was 18 about life decisions. All I've figured out is that I want to be out of being a mechanic as my career or on my way to being so within the next 5 years. Other than that, I have no Idea how I'm going to acheve that and have a career thats better for me.

  28. every time I have a major life decision to make that appears at the moment to have the ability to alter the course of my life, I watch this video. It always gratifies my anxious indecisiveness.

  29. Don't buy Chilean aguacate please. They are drying out our soil and the small agriculture is dying in favour of big business

  30. The anxiety for most is probably not about having this single role for the rest of their lives, the concern is that people are going to invest a lot of time in things at school that they arent going to do well in, arent going to enjoy, and arent going to be able to earn a living doing it professionally.

  31. How can you study broadly if you're an engineering major? If I take any extra classes I'll be in school for a decade.

  32. I've been recently almost desperate because I kept asking my self what do I want to do in my life this video changed the way I looked at it and now I feel way comfortable and ready to go . thank you

  33. I’m not gonna lie, I really really needed to hear this… I’ve been stressing about it for so long, this message was a relief

  34. Each time i made a decision my options narrowed.
    You couldn't have said it better. That is the reason i am not so positive about my 5 year education in one field because then i am probably stuck

  35. I am so lost right now. The problem is I don't even know what the hell do I like. How do I explore more options for myself?

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