When I was in my 20s and surviving the dotcom bust I had a somewhat fatalistic view of my unemployment – it was all happening for a reason. Though I couldn’t tell you what that reason was. I was obsessed with figuring it out. What was I supposed to be learning from this experience? I was convinced that once I learned what I was supposed to learn, my own personal cycle of boom and bust, mirroring the economy at large, would end.
I approached figuring out what I was convinced I was meant to learn with all of the pent-up energy that I would have preferred to invest in a career, had I not been unemployed. Consequently, figuring out my path was my favorite topic of discussion. Since most of my friends were in a similar dilemma (and California just invites self-discovery), no one ever told me I was obsessed or that I should just relax and wait and see what happened. Perhaps this is because I am not a wait-and-see-what-happens kind of person. Those that are would have probably found me intolerable and never befriended me in the first place.
More than once, however, I made the mistake of sharing my philosophical musings in an interview. Now I look back in horror at my behavior and wonder if there is any type of atonement that can erase my naiveté. Needless to say, figuring out fulfillment requires a tremendous commitment to philosophical musing and self-reflection, and it can be helpful to discuss your thoughts on the matter with trusted friends who will reflect back what you’re saying – not impose their own paradigm. Embrace reflection, but not in your cover letter, your resume, or an interview.