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I Will Never Be a Dentist

Doug Coupland once wrote, "At twenty you know you're not going to be a rock star... by twenty-five you know you're not going to be a dentist or a professional... by thirty, a darkness starts moving in - you wonder if you're ever going to be fulfilled, let alone wealthy or successful... by thirty-five, you know, basically, what you're going to be doing the rest of your life; you become resigned to your fate."
I have been thinking a lot about this recently.
I still want to be famous. I dream of it less than when I was young, but I like to think of mingling with the bignames. I find myself wanting to name-drop, to sound like I am somehow closer to stardom than the masses. But I am almost twenty-seven, and the chances of that happening are slim-to-none. The realist in me is coming to terms with this. Mostly.
However, I don't wonder if I will ever be fulfilled, wealthy or successful.
I already am.

I am in the wealthiest 3% of the world's population. You probably are too
I feel fulfilled. My life is not perfect, but it is good. I think this sense of fulfillment comes because I am clarifying who it is that I am and what it is that I am made to do. I am making choices in my life to do things that give me joy. This doesn't mean I avoid hardship. But there is a difference between doing difficult things and doing things that are outside of my "calling." The idea of calling is a whole other post. Or a whole book. I recommend Courage and Calling by Gordon T Smith. Written from a Christian perspective, but I think has some big insights no matter your faith community.

And as for success, my main goals in life are 1. Know Jesus. and 2. Love people. I have not arrived at either of these, but I am increasingly okay with the fact that I never will. Fully. But I will continue to move forward in both endeavours. And I'm convinced that as I do, the secondary goals in my life will either happen or be redefined.

I am choosing to live my life believing that the best days are ahead of me. I will always believe this, no matter how old I get. And if I stop believing it, I want someone (other than my brothers) to slap me in the face and remind me of this post.

You know, I am convinced of God's goodness in a way I haven't always been. I still wrestle with hope and what it looks like in various difficult situations, but I have realized this: I still have hope. Sometimes I think that is harder than having no hope.

I share all these thoughts not to make you feel guilty or like a failure if you don't currently love your life. But to challenge us all away from the status quo of resignation and comparison and towards actively choosing contentment and the pursuit of non-material wealth.
What about you: what do you think of this quote? How do you fight resignation or mediocrity in your life? What do you think the difference is between developing contentment and becoming complacement?


Thom said…
This isn't answering your question, but, I don't live my life believing that the best days are ahead of me (at least in the worldly sense). And your post makes me think maybe I should. Probably I should. <- opinion
Jackie said…
I have been thinking a lot about this as well, as you already know. I have been meaning to blog and share my current thoughts about pursuing dreams & Jesus but they've been unclear to me (probably because of the job situation) - this post has given me some direction. I think I will respond to this with a post this week.

Lisa said…
I like what you've posted and I'm really happy to hear and read that you are content with your life.

I have caught myself in the past spending too much time thinking about how the best days are ahead and not spending enough time enjoying the moment and what I have right now. I've needed a slap in the face over that before :)
Teagen said…
a) I don't want to now, nor have I ever wanted to be a dentist.

b) You are totally famous. I'm in Oregon and I heard about you from someone else who heard about you from someone else and now I'm actually interacting with you and I drop your name CONSTANTLY.

c) You pose difficult questions. I've found that if I am challenged and moving forward in at least some areas of my life (it doesn't really matter if it's at my job, or on a project, or in music, etc.) and not stagnating I am generally content. I do have trouble finding balance between movement forward and further work on where I'm at, in the various co-existing chunks of my life. Also, I have an occasional crisis when I realize I'm not actually saving the world. However, I don't feel that I'm resigned to anything, and am instead taking an active role in my purpose/destiny. AND I don't agree with the quote, in that both of my parents have changed their careers after turning 50. So there.
Laura said…
When I read the quote I thought, "this is such a terrible way to live!!" It's because I don't see life a resignation at all because I have heavenly hope and I KNOW my life is not about this moment only, it's about an assured eternity which puts everything into perspective, even the mundaneness of life.
Beth said…
Thom: :) <- gratitude for kicking things off.

Jackie: I can't wait.

Lisa: you bring up a good point! sometimes we (I) get TOO fixated on the future and forget that the present is meant to be enjoyed as well... this is tricky to balance sometimes.

Teagen: um, that b) part boggles my mind... I don't understand how you found me, but I'm glad you did! and I think I feel similarly, with regards to that need for feeling motion/growth.

Laura: it is pretty sad. and I think a lot more people than we realize live like this - even (especially) within the church. Sometimes I have/do.

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