Goals are good. Plans, not shabby. Expectations and dreams, a-okay.
While it’s never bad to have an idea and plan for your life and future, sometimes rigidly adhering to a vision we come up with at age 21 or 22 can cause unnecessary struggles. The way college is structured can lead to some of this stress. For instance, work has been further and further specialized as our society has progressed. While this division of knowledge/labor has produced massive material benefits within our society, it may also lead to a narrowing of the human spirit and our aspirations.
Take, for instance, college majors. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a career path in your late teens, immediately exiting high school. If you’ve always been mechanically-minded, toying with Legos as a toddler and acing AP Calculus in high school, then your natural aptitudes and the engineering path may be well suited.
If you enter college not knowing exactly what you want to do, that’s also fine. Taking a semester or two to figure out what you want may be a better option than choosing something just to maintain the appearance that you have an idea and path laid out.
Further, college itself isn’t a necessity. This isn’t a call to drop out of college en masse. Rather, if you find yourself aimless and questioning what you want to do with your life, it might be a smart move to re-evaluate your major decision and what you want out of college. As we all know, a degree is exorbitantly expensive. Going the full four years even if you don’t feel passionate or interested in your major can cause major financial setbacks for young adults entering a shaky economic hierarchy with high hurdles to entry. A degree, we’re told, should help you stand out among the competition. But the college decision should also be weighed alongside your own interests, the financial burden of attending and if your skillset could blossom outside of academia.
There is no universal commandment that states people must have their lifelong career path determined at a particular point in their twenties. There is no absolute rule saying success only comes from the standard college route, paved with a certain GPA and flashy degree title.
Jobs aside, a similar line of thinking can be applied to other areas of life. While our college boo thang might feel like our soul mate, with future visions of them next to our 82-year-old wheelchair-bound selves, they might not be around ’til death do you part.
And that’s okay! The idea of a soul mate might be idealistic and naive; perhaps we craft our soul mate out of a random person we end up dating, rather than magically finding the person we’re meant to be with.
Arbitrary time pressures should be shed. We’re young. We’ve got time to figure out our careers, love lives, fitness goals, life philosophy or whatever else is nagging at the back of our minds.
Take the macroscopic view of your life and bring it to the microscopic. Focus on what your day-to-day life is like and how the decisions you make in it affect your week, then your month, then your life and expansive future ahead of you.
It’s cliche, but cliches hold the greatest truth: Take it one day at a time.
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