What Should I Do With My Life? – Why It’s Impossible to Deny Who You Really Are

When I started telling people how I’m thinking of going to school for creative writing, many of them said “Of course you are.”

I’m surprised at how many people recognized the writer in me before I recognized him myself. As I’m contacting former professors and professional colleagues for letters of recommendation, I’m receiving a lot of positive encouragement regarding my writing pursuit:

“I’m not surprised to hear about your interest in writing (after all, you won an award for the best journal in the Foundations of Computer Science course and consistently wrote great journals in the other courses you took with me).”

“I’m sure you’ll do well. I remember how your eyes lit up when we interviewed you and I mentioned writing skills!”

“Seriously, even when it comes to simple email messages, your writing is tactful, thorough, and engaging. You’d be a fool not to make your career in writing.”

Their comments reminded me of other compliments that I’ve received, and I began to piece together all of the signals that I’ve missed regarding my interest in writing.

I remember how when I was in college, I was attending Computer Science classes. Once all of my programming obligations were done, though, I’d spend my free time writing. I’d publish my thoughts and experiences online, on a website I hosted from my dorm room. It was fun for me, and I did it purely for recreation.

When I took the website down because I moved home during the summers, people would contact me saying they missed my writing. They wanted their daily dose, and were anxious to find out when the site would be back up. Although I was only writing for fun, people were telling me they were basically addicted to it.

I should have taken it as a sign. But I missed it.

Later, when I would channel all of my feelings into poetry or fiction stories, people would be impressed. When those who were close to me actually had an opportunity to read some of the things I’d written, they’d say “Shaun!? What are you doing in computer science? You are a writer!”

I should have taken it as a sign. But I missed it.

I remember how a girl once read the intro to one of my stories-in-progress. She asked for more, but when I explained that I wasn’t planning on continuing that story, she got mad. She glanced down at the last page, looked up at me with a face of disappointment, and then said “I think I’d actually pay to read more of this.”

I should have taken it as a sign. But I missed it.

In spite of all these obvious signals, I imagined that my writing was just “a silly hobby.” I thought that it was only a side-project, or a thing to do to pass the time. How could it possibly be anything more?

Instead of focusing on writing, I really concentrated on my computer education. They say that “hindsight is always 20/20,” and after many years in the computer industry spent working jobs that I didn’t enjoy, I looked around at the career path I had taken and wondered “What the hell happened?”

At the end of my college career, I stopped writing for a long time. I told myself how “Now it’s time to get serious. Now the fun is over, because it’s time to work.” I didn’t understand that work could be fun, if I’d only chosen a career path doing what I loved to do.

Writing is my passion. I know that now. Strangely, others seemed to know it before I did. So I’ve made some mistakes. Thankfully, it’s never too late to turn back.

In 2007, four years after college, I started this blog. I’ve tried to move it forward ever since. It’s not perfect, it’s relatively unknown, and I only consider it mildly successful — but it’s fun for me.

I like making observations about life and sharing my perspective. I understand how nobody will ever relate to every single thing that I say, but people will still read for their own reasons. And sometimes, I’ll write something that really strikes a chord with someone, who knows exactly what I’m talking about. They’ll contact me, tell me their story, and thank me. Hearing from people that become inspired by my blog makes it all worthwhile. It encourages me to keep writing.

Now, after four years of blogging, I’m trying to take my writing to the next level. I’m trying to get a formal writing education and Master’s Degree. There’s a chance I won’t be accepted into the creative writing workshop, and that fear of failure terrifies me.

That said, it’s impossible to deny who I am. I am a writer. I write because I must. To not write is suicide. It’s difficult to express, but really everything that I do gets tucked away in my brain like it’s being “saved for later.” All of my experiences can be used to illustrate an idea, describe a point I’m trying to make, or even inspire a fiction story.

It’s like there’s a tiny, unsatisfied writer in my head who is watching the world through my eyes. Whenever something interesting happens, he won’t shut up about how “This would make a great story!” Furthermore, he won’t let me sleep or relax until I’ve written something down for the day. He’s a determined little pest.

It all boils down to this: People really are “made” for things. Creative types need to create. For me, it’s writing stories. For others, it’s writing music. Similarly, some people need to build homes, or design buildings. Some people need to take cars apart, and then put them back together. Some people need to paint. My point is, there’s something in this world that we are constantly drawn to, because we are made for it.

How you spend your time defines who you are. Your interests are your passions, and your life’s passion is the one thing that simply won’t go away.

It’s what keeps rearing its head when you ignore it. It’s what you think about doing when you’re busy doing other things. It’s what keeps you up at night.

It’s what you are. And it’s impossible to deny who you are.

You may be able to set it aside for a few years to focus on other priorities — but your true calling is always in the back of your mind, waiting for its turn to take the reins. Once it finally does, you’ll feel a bit foolish. You’ll realize “Oh yes, of course. Of course! This is what I love to do! This is what I should be doing! Why didn’t I start doing this sooner?

I don’t know why I didn’t start sooner. It’s probably a combination of having too much pride, not wanting to admit that I made a mistake, and the fear of having to start over again. All this considered, I’m excited to really embrace who I am.

I am a writer. What are you?

Be true to who you are

If you've found this website helpful, please click the PayPal button. You will be helping me pursue my dream career as a writer. Thanks for your support!

15 Responses to “What Should I Do With My Life? – Why It’s Impossible to Deny Who You Really Are”

#1 kate on 31, Oct, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Have you considered self publishing? Although getting a Master’s Degree is great, I was told back in college when I considered applying for a Master’s Degree that what it really offers you is quiet time to write.

Although a Master’s Degree can get your foot in the door in publishing especially if you want to publish literary fiction, these days conventional publishing is somewhat of a shrinking field.

#2 Shaun Boyd on 01, Nov, 2011 at 10:40 am

I’ve heard mixed things about self publishing, and know someone who’s done it and sadly only sells about one book every 6 months. I’m actually looking forward to having “quiet time to write” in a master’s program, plus I imagine it will give me the opportunity to meet people with writing interests and publishing contacts.

I don’t want to throw out the idea of self publishing, and remember I haven’t been accepted into the master’s program yet. I’m hoping it’s what happens for me, but we’ll see what the next chapter of my life will bring.

#3 kate on 04, Nov, 2011 at 12:49 am

You could try self publishing a book version of your blog. I heard self help and career advise is a hot field in self publishing right now.

#4 Jerry Lopper on 05, Nov, 2011 at 8:21 am


Congratulations on making the declaration, “I am a writer!” That’s a critical step on the path, as I’m sure you’re now aware. And I’ve also found it true, that the people who know us very well know our strengths and passions, even when we’re blind to them.

As for self-publishing, don’t let the snobs out there mislead you. Sure, it would be great to get a big publishing contract, but those are few and far between for new authors. A good book, whether self-published or traditionally published demonstrates your abilities. And there are tremendous opportunities now for self-promotion via social networking. You might be interested in looking at http://www.select-authors.com, kind of a co-op for new authors. There’s great ideas there and good tips for new authors.


#5 story on 08, Nov, 2011 at 10:07 pm

What you are and what you do aren’t necessarily the same things. I am a teacher, and I will always be a teacher, even though right now I’m not teaching. I’m a writer. I’m a daughter, a friend, a wife.

And I’m a mom. And this, now, mostly.

What you do is something that changes over time. Who you are? Less. The best we can hope is to do the right thing at each moment and to keep being who we are through it all.

If you want to be a writer, you write. What you do with your life? May not be the same question.

#6 Amir on 11, Nov, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I saw this page when I Was Google-ing your pages Topic!
As I started to read your Writing Up there I noticed I’m feeling Better!
Thank you, You realy are a Good Writer!
and I think I’m a Writer, just Like you are!
the Only diffrence is I write in another Language! 🙂
I do it for my self for fun!
but Considering Where I live, Writing won’t build me a Good Future.
So I should Continue my College Hopping my Scores will be A+!!!

#7 Pete L on 15, Nov, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Hey Shaun, this is a great piece of writing. …and yes, Kate and Jerry are correct. Self publishing is the way forward these days.

Think about using Amazon’s free software to publish and sell your material as and when necessary. You just collate it, add a front cover, and it’ll print then send a hard backed copy to any purchaser. THEN you’ll be known as a successful author. …and make much more money than the conventional route anyway.

By the way, I hadn’t realised why I’m continually pulled back to keep doing a certain thing in my life. Now I do. Thanks!

#8 Kat on 09, Dec, 2011 at 12:18 pm


Yesterday, I randomly googled “i am unhappy but not sad with my life” and found your webpage. I have been reading your posts and you are saying everything I am feeling. I know that when you start googling about how unhappy you are in your life, it’s time to change. The positive is that I know I need to change, only I don’t know what my next step is.

I am not a computer “guy”, I am a girl and, although love computers, know very little about how they work underneath it all, so I can’t relate to you on that level. Where I relate to you is the boring job “working dead”, the search for what my purpose or true calling is in life, and discovering my passion for living again.

I love to travel!!!!! and after I graduated I took 6 months and went to Europe. I loved it but it took a big chunk out of my savings. So I came home and got this job as a legal secretary. I was excited at first. It’s a good paying job, it’s my first “grown up” job out of college and I have never worked in an office environment. So, I can honestly say, I was excited. Two years later, still at the same job, I’m BORED our of my mind, the people I work with hate each other, no one’s EVER excited about anything, the office is dead 99% of the time, and the worst part, I am not very good at this job because I make mistakes all the time.

Yet I’m still here because I don’t know what I should do, I’m afraid of not finding another job and I’m afraid of disappointing my parents.

It’s Christmas time and the new year is coming soon, I am hoping I will have enough courage to make a change before the new year is here (I have 3 weeks to go)…quit this job, go on a little break and start over.

So I will keep reading your posts and keep being inspired.


#9 Julie on 25, Feb, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hey Kat,
You said you love to travel. Why not get a job as a flight attendant? That’s what I want to do. It is competitive because you can travel for free, but Kiki Ward has written a book that has some great success stories from people who have read it and applied it. It focuses on what to do at the interview, what the airlines are looking for, etc. There are lots of actual interview questions and the “correct” answers. She even offers a resume service that will vamp up your existing resume! So if you’re interested, here’s her website:
P.S. I am not affiliated with Kiki Ward or the website. I’m just getting caught up with the vein of this blog in helping others fulfill their dreams!

#10 Tyler on 10, Mar, 2012 at 12:39 am

Greetings from a random Googler! I was in the middle of an elaborate response to this post inspired by a feeling of some sort of intellectual kinship that was mostly centered on my being generally disgruntled with working in software maintenance when I realized that I really missed researching random quantum physics phenomena. For the sake of brevity, it will suffice to say that the story of your experience has made me reconsider what I’m doing right now. Anywho, I wish you luck in your endeavors, and will probably be keeping up with your blog from now on due to a chance encounter.

#11 Michael Hoffman on 26, Jun, 2012 at 7:37 pm

If Mark Zuckerberg is the poster child for success, I would be the poster child for utter failure. I too am a college drop out and got absolutely no where. Perhaps my life should be a warning to kids out there who want to drop out of college or high school. My story is the one no one ever hears about because no one wants to hear about it. The stories that always get told are the ones where someone becomes rich. Who wants to hear a story of a failure (especially one that is probably going to end with suicide)?

I have had so many jobs in my life that I have lost count. I am 42 now and still have no idea what to do with my life which is how I ended up at your web site.

I probably should mention that in addition to being 42 and completely lost in life I suffer from major depression (taking meds since I was 15 years old, however my anxiety issues go back to elementary school, I was probably the only child in elementary school who suffered from neurosis), I fantasize about committing suicide almost everyday and I have been this way from adolescence. I have had some suicide attempts in the past.

I never finished college after seven years. I tried to go back recently but I lose interest. I take antidepressants and I see my doctor and a therapist. I have been seeing psychiatrists and therapists since I was 15 and I have been in and out of mental hospitals over the last couple of decades.

I am currently on disability since I can’t support myself. I have no history of drug use or alcohol either and grew up in middle class America. I’ve even had the pleasure of living out of my car (before it got repo’ed). I have tried everything under the sun in terms of work, even trying web design and development, web blogging, computer repair, and I fail miserably. I mean, if I had to mention one thing I am really good at, it would be failing. I fail like a champ, as ironic as that sounds. If I wasn’t so successful at failing I wouldn’t be successful at anything (I don’t think that statement makes any sense).

At times, I wonder if life is even worth living anymore. I mean, I am already 42 years old. What can I possibly hope to be? School is out of the question, and before you ask me why, the reason is because I get bored with every subject I study.

I have tried so many majors and don’t know what to try anymore. I just want to give up now. I am tired and want the end to come. I have asked for help from so many mental health experts and get no help that I give up. No one can or wants to help me. In all likelihood I am probably going to commit suicide at some point in the near future and I just wanted someone to know that I existed. That I was here. That my existence sucked royally, but that I was here and that I did try (albeit I failed miserably at everything).

#12 Michael Hoffman on 28, Jun, 2012 at 8:19 am

I have all my pills together and i am going to take them all so i can end it all. i hate my life so much. i can’t even put into words how much i hate myself and my useless fucking life. it will be so nice to die. i want to die so much. it is all i think about. my death will be beautiful. my corpse will rot and i will be finally be free.

#13 iris valera on 18, Jul, 2012 at 5:58 am

hey there, Michael Hoffman!

sometimes, you just need someone to listen to you and believe in you. why don’t you visit my site. maybe i can help you out of your situation just by talking to you. i am no psychologist but friends do come to me sometimes for advice. some of them came out of it and decided to get on with life.


#14 Bono T on 02, Dec, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Hey Michael Hoffman, you just wrote this about your “failed life” didn’t you? but here’s something I have to tell you, your text about your “failed life” was a successful text, and I liked the way you wrote, you could try to make a blog and tell the story of your life, I bet you wouldn’t want it to end with a suicide 🙂

#15 Randy on 13, Dec, 2012 at 10:15 am

I came across lifereboot.com when I was looking for an online-game remedy. I read your writing about how you managed to free yourself from Final Fantasy. Lol that wasn’t so different to my experience. I enjoy playing MMORPGs so much that I don’t know if I can channel it to something better. I hate this vicious cycle of wanting to quit and being lured to play again. Because of MMORPGs, I can’t focus on what I truly love, what I truly enjoy. Help! Write some good writings about how to quit gaming.

Leave a Reply