I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to go in life. When you’re in university/college, these questions come up a lot. The following conversation is one I seem to have at least once a week, when I meet someone new:
Me: Oh, so what are you studying?
Person: (with passion and commitment) International relations and peace and equity studies. I think I want to go into law or join a NGO. How about you? What are you studying?
Me: Languages. French and Spanish.
Person: Oh that’s so cool! I wish I knew another language. I did french in high school but never continued with it. (everyone says that!!) So what do you want to do? Become a translator?
Me: I have absolutely no clue…
Person: Oh. Well with languages you can do anything! (trust me, saying that doesn’t help, it just makes me more confused.)
It seems that so many people around me know what they want to do, or even if they don’t, they have a passion for something. It can be really discouraging because it makes me question myself. Why am I studying what I’m studying? Do I even like it? What do I want to do in life? People keep telling me that I have time or that an undergraduate degree doesn’t even matter. It’s your masters and doctorate that are important. But I disagree. I’m sure from you’re position as an older student, a professor or a counselor, you can look back at these times in your life and say things like that. But as a student who is lost and confused and unsure about what she wants to do, those words do not bring any comfort. I feel like I don’t have time – like it’s too late to change my field of study, if I was even sure of what I wanted to do.
There are things I regret doing, such as putting myself in a small little box first year, convinced of what I knew and unwilling to try different things. But now that I’m at a new school things have changed. The atmosphere is charged with potential and drive, a need to succeed and the desire to be the best. It puts pressure on you, not only to achieve but also to enjoy what you are doing while you are struggling to do it.
At some point in my life, ever since kindergarten, I have known what I wanted to do with my life. In my years after preschool, I endeavored to become an ocean floor geologist, despite the fact that I couldn’t (and still can’t) swim. I think I learned the word from the Magic School Bus, because “ocean floor geologist” is not common vocabulary for a 5 year-old. In elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher, modeled after all the great teachers I had. I would be the cool teacher who would let her students eat soup in class, go on lots of field trips and watch Bill Nye the Science guy every day. The 6th and 7th grade sparked a change, where I got more creative and started designing things. Then, my goal was either to be a fashion designer or interior decorator. But as I continued to age, reality caught up with me and my plans changed. After picking up French relatively quickly in high school and Spanish a few years later, I thought, well hey! I seem to be good with languages, why not make it a career. But it’s harder than you think when you’re not immersed in a native speaking environment.
This uncertainty is new to me and it’s a feeling that I don’t enjoy. Let’s say I hate it. Hate it. It’s a strong word for a strong feeling. I’m not sure how to go about tackling this feeling but I hope that the future brings with some certainty, clarity, and optimism, as well as a way for me to discover my true passions.
Have you found something you truly enjoy in life?