For most of our lives we have had a handbook to follow: schedules, class requirements, assignments, and constant feedback on whether we are doing it right or not. For most of our lives we’ve been in school.
Life after school has fewer mentors, more responsibilities, and tons of uncertainty. We don’t have a handbook anymore, and whenever we try to borrow someone else’s handbook we realize how much it doesn’t work for us.
The first few years after you receive your last diploma feel like a void. This is when you are asked to follow your instinct. But the ironic thing here is that in order to escalate the meritocracy, a system built on right and wrong, rote memorization, and structure galore, you had to repress your instinct. They were a liability that often got you in trouble. Relying on them now feels foreign, like blowing the dust off a VHS tape.
But your instinct, that personal compass, is the most stable and reliable thing you have. It’s something that you’ve been building, little by little, from day one. It’s tested, organic. It creates that weird feeling you get when you are about to do something that doesn’t make sense with the rest of you, or that tingly feeling that crawls all over your forearms when you are hungry or chasing your passion. It’s unique to you, and it probably only makes sense to you.
What I’ve slowly (and painfully) found out is that there is no pre-written handbook anymore. As Seth clearly puts it, you get to create the future, so in a way, the handbook gets written on the fly. The one writing it is your instinct. The good thing here is that if you quit looking around and just follow your internal pen, it will all make sense.