Reflections for Advent, No. 11
Image above: Ruth H, What Next? 2015
I don’t know what to do now. What next?…
When I posted this question on Facebook, I got 22 ‘likes’ in 12 hours (1). Not bad. This collective empathy for uncertainty and indecision was echoed in the comments: ‘Join the club!!’ said one (2); ‘Everyday!’ agreed another (3); then came the confessional, ‘I almost started an art movement based on prevarication…’ (4)
I’d already tried searching on Google. The results promised life-changing articles on careers, relationships, and five year plans (5). Then I found Wheeldecide, dedicated to helping us make decisions when a coin just doesn’t have enough sides (6). I asked Wheeldecide, “What should I do now?” The answer, “Fix something”.
The pressure to choose a direction can be paralyzing but why must we always know where we are headed anyway? What about the value in trying things out and getting things wrong? Making mistakes should be just as important as getting it right. It has been said that at least 80% of ideas are crap, but we need the crap ideas in order to generate the few good ideas that might rise to the surface and make a difference (7). The thing is, we won’t know what’s crap and what’s good until we give it a go, test it out. Perhaps we should be spending at least 80% of our time playing with the seemingly crap, rubbish, useless ideas, just in case. That sounds like loads more fun than dead end online procrastination.
“No seriously, what’s next everyone?” I asked again on Facebook. To my relief I was offered the opportunity to meet and chat over a cup of tea (8). Close laptop. Breathe.
We’re not good at asking for help out of fear of showing weakness or being an inconvenience but often when we’re feeling lost, a shared conversation can be all it takes to get back on track, make the next move, however small that step might be (9). It’s not that a conversation will provide all the answers, but then neither would Google or Facebook. Choosing a direction to go in can be scary. Sometimes we get it wrong. But the problem is not that you’ve failed to find the one truth, the problem is believing that you ever might (10). If we accept that trying and failing is an important part of finding our way, and recognise the value in sharing the journey with others, then it all becomes that bit easier.
(1) Liked at the time of writing by Ilana Mitchell, Debbie Lloyd, Andrew Sandercock, Dawn Felicia Knox, Aaron Guy, Alexandra Marsden, Rene McBrearty, Arto Polus, Andrew Wilson, Amy Warmington, Oonagh Hegarty, Lydia Catterall, Charlotte Gregory, Lady Kitt, Emily Victoria Thiollier Murray, Genco Gulan, Mark Jackson, Karen Davies, Elizabeth Kane, Terri Miles, and Katy Cole.
(2) Chris Erskine
(3) Aaron Guy
(4) Sebastian Messer
(5) Top five sites on Google search: If You Don’t Know What To Do Next In Your Life, Read These 5 Strategies; What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do; This column will change your life: don’t know what to do next? Wait and see; How to change careers when you don’t know what you want to do next; What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do: A Case Study
(7) David E. H. Jones, The Aha! Moment: A Scientist’s Take on Creativity, Johns Hopkins University Press (2011)
(8) Thank you Dominic White
(9) Thank you to everyone who has listened to me this year. I have to admit that this one has been a struggle. I wouldn’t have got through it without your sympathetic ears.
(10) While I could trawl through the Internet to find the reference for these words of wisdom, I’d much rather spend time working on my crap ideas plus I just remembered I haven’t fixed that thing.
Ruth H is a member of Chilli Studios based in Blackfriars Centre close to The Holy Biscuit. They provide creative-based services for people with mental health problems
Hannah Marsden co-juried ‘Advent and Adventure’ 2012. She is a curator based in Newcastle and works at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.