So, what do you want to do with your life?!

I found the following video and wished I had been shown it a few years back:

To be honest, I hated guidance office appointments.  They always seemed to loom over everything else that was going on in my teenage life, including friends, school (and its discontents), first love, etc, etc, to infinitum.  What was the point of them?  Essentially, they were as banal as selecting paint chips to paint your room with.  How do you really know what the final product is going to look like (your room and your life)? You just select schools based on a few criteria (How much will it cost? Who is going there? What programs do they have? What is the student life like?).  Then, once you have selected a school you apply to a particular program in that school and voilà – or so Hollywood would like us to think, or would like their young, eager audiences to imagine.

Nah, nah.  It’s a little more complicated than that.  First, you get into the school, then you realize half-way through your first-year you aren’t actually meant for life sciences.  So, that throws your plans of being a hematologist out the window.  What about that lurid dream of becoming a medical doctor for medicines sans frontiers?  Gone.  Why?  The reality is too much.  In fact, it is taking a toll on your immune system.  You feel like the skeleton you meet everyday in anatomy class.  In this instance, you wildly search for a new meaning in your life and look around your room (or dorm room) for clues on What Do You Want To Do With Your Life (that big question).  A notebook, a journal, a bookshelf with a smorgasbord of theory, politics, an aberrant anatomy book, and artwork by Banksy.  A clock, too, telling you time is ticking.  Clues.

Let’s skip to third year.  You’ve been writing essays for two years now.  This seems to fit.  You can do this without somehow magically getting sick when you receive a new assignment.  In fact, you quite like writing about so-and-so and this and that.  It isn’t always easy, but it seems to fit.  Further, the people in your life seem to fit.

Idealism and practicality – these two oppositional forces in life must meet, as Green states in the video.  You have to reach some medium ground between them or forever be caught in the conundrum of that stupid high school question: what do you want to do with your life?  Kids are asked this question all the time, in a cutesy kind of way:

Adult: So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Kid: an astronaut (or some other wild career choice that most people don’t achieve but you never know with this one)

The question seems to become more imperative until it ceases to be important.  I still get asked the above question (I know I look young for my age, but hey).

KidsDreamingUnderABoard

Suddenly, you are in your Master’s.  Life is work now – or it is starting to be.  Dreams are dreams and are sold.  We all know that, but it is the very fact that you can still dream of more that counts because reality never last.  People in your reality move on and do this and that.  Don’t depend on reality. Live reality, but dream of more.  Idealism and practicality – once again, that balance is what counts.

While in your Master’s, you get stitches after falling while taking care of your little nieces.  They were kind of bloody stitches and you sure are glad you didn’t become a hematologist.

Point made, essentially.  Green is quite right.  Life is made up of all this little things that point us into so many directions.  Some point us wrong, so we get confused and turn the other way.  Others are right.  You still want to become an astronaut but have flying fears? Especially if flying means going into outer space at several thousand miles and hour?  While, maybe write a science fiction novel.  Or read them.

Why I wrote this post is because I still see the problem, even with people I have worked with.  That definite answer of what you will never be answered.  There are no definite in life.  definite never stops.  It continues ad infinitum.  What is definite?  definite is having that perfect career or lifestyle.  definite is a little house in the suburbs, a partner, a little kid.  Definite is where you have job with great benefits and friendly co-workers.  You have green lawn in the summer.  You have a cat and dog.

Then you get into a car accident and spend a few months getting back on your feet.  This is where this definite ends.  Now, you don’t like your job for some reason.  You never want to get into a car again, actually.  Maybe, while you were recovering you found some lost desire to become something you wished you had before.  A new definite begins.  It is a cycle.

So, I’ll paraphrase Green a little, read a lot, think a lot, and become a lot.  Whatnot.  Just be.  Right or wrong, good or bad, it is life.  Just keep dreaming while living in reality.   You’ll be fine, kid.

You might just be.

About dontpanictrent

DON'T PANIC: A Trent Graduate Student Blog

One Response to “So, what do you want to do with your life?!”

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