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On Being Worthwhile

Yesterday I stopped at Starbucks, because I had stars that were expiring at the end of the month and I wanted to use my reward before it no longer existed. As you may have experienced, their app was not working. I stood in the mostly empty Target Starbucks for five minutes, though it felt like twenty, logging into the app over and over again while the baristas waited for me, drink already made. Eventually one of them said, “Are you using the app? It hasn’t been working for a lot of people today.” I voiced my agreement and went to reach for my wallet, frustrated and late for getting back to work, when she continued. “You can just take this. Don’t worry about it.” She handed me my coffee with a smile, and my day went from stressed and frustrated to wonderful, just like that.

I tell you this story not to brag about getting free coffee, but because it was so incredibly juxtaposed with how insignificant I’ve been feeling lately in the scheme of making a difference in the world. Every time my mind has wandered for the last couple weeks, I’ve turned over and over the thought, what should I do next?

I’ve always had something to work toward. High school graduation, college graduation, getting a job. #millennialproblems, am I right? But now that I’ve accomplished all of that, I’ve reached the point where I’m not sure what I should work toward. I want to make a difference, I want to matter. I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. But I don’t know how.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a publishing house, of starting a magazine, of teaching classes, volunteering for a nonprofit, writing a book. There are so many options, and I’m paralyzed by choice. The best advice I’ve gotten is to just start trying things, but 1) I don’t want to invest money in something that’s either going to fail or get boring and 2) I don’t want to waste other people’s time. The third and main thing stopping me from trying things, though, is that I feel so unqualified. I know I could do it, but on paper I don’t look fabulous. Definitely not like someone you’d want to take classes from. I’ve got an undergrad degree from a no-name university, I’ve never been published in a major publication, and I write greeting cards for a living. And if people think writing novels doesn’t require any talent, they believe writing greeting cards requires even less. (That’s untrue, but it’s another topic for another day.)

I have to keep reminding myself that little things matter, that I can make a difference one person, one cup of coffee at a time. But I still want to do something with my life. I just don’t know what yet.

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6 thoughts on “On Being Worthwhile”

  1. Hello there Krissten, I feel like that a lot too. I feel held back by not looking great on paper, so I can relate. It’s helpful to one’s sense of self to have a goal, and in my life I try to create small ones if I can’t find a big one. For example to remain calm when certain (bleep) types try to get a rise out of me, or hoping to keep calm if someone seems by the way they talk down to us, not to like quiet people (another post for another day!) Wishing you well. Bless you. Sb.

  2. I know what this feels like from my past. I also used to worry about not looking good on paper. I thought of writing a book on painting as I taught classes for 10 years, but struggled with what I would put in the intro, because I don’t have the right ‘badges’ of approval – I was mostly self taught with painting. I’m also a writer now, have published a novel, but not been in any posh literary magazines. These days everyone seems to hype up their skills and qualifications, but they aren’t a true sign of ability from what I’ve observed. My little message for you is not to give a toss about ‘not looking good on paper’ – give yourself some time and if you can, follow your heart, because that is where meaning and life satisfaction are centred. Wishing you all good things…

  3. Also…I write for a newspaper. I’m fluent in words. my job DEPENDS on my ability to tell honest truths with enough creative flair to make it interesting.

    and for the life of me, just SIGNING greeting cards is like pulling teeth. I will literally ponder of the best way to sign one stinking card for D A Y S.

    So you have earned mad respect for /writing/ greeting cards. I could never do that and keep my job. XD Down with the haters who make you feel like it requires no creativity.

  4. I sympathize with this so much!
    I have so much in my life right now that I’m happy with and feel blessed to call mine…but there’s also the lingering feeling of “now what?”
    I graduated. I have a job. I’m doing things. but now what?
    When I was a kid, new goals were handed to me. Parents gave responsilbilities, deadlines, privledges and every new door was opened FOR me.
    but as an adult, I’m learning that no one is going to open doors anymore. They may point to them or try to direct me, but I have to do the door-opening on my own, and if I don’t, then I will always stay in the same room, the same place, the same status.
    I’m not really quite sure what the answer is yet for me. I’m still looking for my ‘what next’ phase. But reading this made me feel a bit better because I’m at least not feeling like this on my own.

    1. Ahh thank you for sharing! All of that is so true, and so so relatable. It’s not that I’m not happy with my life, I just want to be working toward a goal. I’m not glad you’re feeling the same thing, but I’m glad I’m not alone.

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