James is a friend of mine in his 20s who’s a structural engineer. That means it’s his responsibility to make sure a building is sound and won't one day spontaneously collapse, killing every orphan and hospital patient inside. He’s supervised of course, but on a day to day basis, it’s fair to say that James has absolutely no f***ing clue what he is doing. How do I know this? Because James admitted as much at the pub last night (while sloshing beer all over the table).
Wendy is another friend in her 20s who was sloshed last night as well. Wendy works at the Department of Finance and is responsible for something to do with taxation (I’m not entirely sure what... I was pretty sloshed when she told me). She too conceded that on a day to day basis she generally has very little idea about what she is doing. Yet the implications of her screwing up (although supervised) could be pretty far reaching.
I’m in my late 20s and considered pretty good at what I do. A couple of (almost) awards here, the occasional splattering of praise there. Despite that, I too, generally have very little idea about what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Yet as a journalist, it’s my job to inform society (that’s a scary thought). The blind leading the blind.
It’s concerning how often people, who seem like they absolutely do, and should, know what they are doing, admit to having no idea. It makes you wonder how the little cogs of society keep turning (especially when the engineers who put them there probably had no idea what they were doing).
Maybe life is like a piece of Ikea furniture. Yes, there are some poorly drawn instructions here and there that more often than not, don’t look anything like what’s in front of you. So you put the music on and do your doggone best to figure out how all these odd little pieces fit together to create something vaguely aesthetic and useful. Sometimes it works, and you look down, satisfied you achieved the task despite the odds.
Other times, you’re left with a pile of broken shit and a bandage around your hand where the hammer accidently slipped. But that’s ok, you tell yourself. You need the extra firewood anyway and heck, that set of draws in the antiques store was waaaay cuter. And fortunately, most people were too busy trying to construct their own pieces of Ikea furniture to notice yours fall to shit.
So I think the point, if this rambling incoherent jumble of words has one (I have no idea what I’m doing) is that it’s okay to have no idea what you’re doing. There will be plenty of time to figure it out along the way. Some of the greatest inventors, entertainers and entrepreneurs had no idea what they were doing. But they kept on doing stuff until one of those stuff worked. Picking themselves up if it all fell into a pile of shit and brushing it off. And I think that’s the key. If you do nothing, you know what will happen. Nothing. If you do something, you may not know what will happen, but it will be something more than nothing.