Mostly autobiographical after-the-fact self-advice.
I’m quite convinced that many, if not most of us, are capable of living lives that range somewhere between mostly satisfactory and partially fulfilling. Certain birth lottery factors set aside, of course. Content in the continuation of living how and where our stories began. The hometown or region, the line of work or career, the religion, general lifepath, and final resting place that were all, in varying degrees, mapped out for us. With subtle and not-so-subtle reminders sprinkled into our daily lives from cradle to grave. I would in no way call such a life boring, fearful, or unlived. Not at all. I truly believe that the vast majority of pleasant existences play out within these traditional parameters. There is a sense of comfort, a degree of reliability, and collective dignity in such a life.
But what happens if you cast aside the map you were first issued in life and go traipsing off beyond its borders? There’s a lot that could happen. For example, you could have your eyes opened, senses awakened, and whole world turned upside down by the things that lie beyond the boundaries of the life plan presented to you in the beginning. It could be the greatest thing that ever happened. It could also be the worst. Or both.
Either way, there will be consequences, good and bad, and a whole bunch of them are wholly undoable. Some folks possess character or personality traits that when engaged or enlivened, awaken a soul prone to seeking further and deeper than they were expecting or prepared for. Becoming a sort of transient with itches that could be described as the same. That come and go, and morph over time, but always at some point need scratching. Sending them on their way to a new town, career, circle of friends, relationship, and on occasion down the path of stalwart hedonism. Such a life is to be as envied or pitied as the prior.
There’s a strong chance that if you decide to go navigating through unfamiliar waters you’re going to get tossed - numerous times. Just hope that the currents at the moment don’t pull you under for good before the ship can be righted. However, if you explore enough new territory and study enough cartography, you might develop the skills and the feel to know when it’s time to batten down the hatches, steer a wide berth, or continue ahead full sail. And eventually, hopefully, become adept enough to chart your own course with competence. Using all of the experience gleaned from the journey - which can sometimes include some very helpful orientation indicators from that first map you were so keen to forget about.
Discontentedness vs suffering. Contentedness vs euphoria. Though all manners and measures of mitigation and mania can be found along either path, one way of life tends to reliably produce more stable results with less wild variance. While the other often touches the bookends of the human experience with more regularity. A person would be well-advised to consider things like where their own center resides, tolerance for sharp contrasts, and capacity for acceptance of here-and-nows and come-what-mays, before intentionally choosing one path over the other. Admittedly, it can be almost impossible to know yourself to that extent as a young person, if ever. Or how you’ll react or adapt to circumstances until you’re in them. So easier said than done, but considerations that should be made nonetheless.
Beyond that, pulling the trigger on where to take your life comes down to things like gut instinct, passion, purpose, opportunity, and or a desire to explore and experience what else the world has to offer. It also comes down to things like a sense of pre-ordained meaning, responsibility, reliability, and tradition. Self-reflect, set priorities, and set sail. Because when it’s all tallied and tabulated, who else is to say which of those things should be steering your ship anyway?