How many of us actually feel 100% sure of ourselves in our countdown of life? For those that can indefinitely shout, “I am without fault, I am without shame, I am without doubt,” kudos to you. You are truly a remarkable anomaly. Now, for the rest of us – yes, me too – we can’t go around with a bullhorn singing our praises. Sometimes a crossroad makes us hesitate. A detour can make us question where we came from and where we’re going.
Living in a society where threatening the norm is viewed as deviant behavior makes finding who we are harder. From early on you see kids who want to fill the typical roles. My grade school graduating class wanted to be veterinarians, firefighters, teachers, doctors, and professional athletes. None thought about being an artist, graphic designer, fashion designer, journalist, oceanographer. Age and exposure had a lot to do with that but when graduating from high school, most were the same. My college freshman class was filled with undeclared students right up to the YOU MUST DECLARE deadline. And even then, students switched majors like clothes. The question here is why?
Recently a friend of mine sat down and questioned nearly every facet of his life. It was while listening that I revisited the flaws in people and society. Between middle school and high school we are pressured into making a decision that will shadow the rest of our lives. We’re supposed to pick an interest and pursue a degree and then go out into the world as capable adults to work in the respective field. I admire people who know from the age of ten what they want and never let up till they make it. I truly am in awe with their unwavering commitment but then again, how can we be so sure they never teetered?
As my friend explained it, not being able to fit into the mold is crushing. It makes you wonder what is wrong with you? Why couldn’t you do what everybody else did? Why did you have to be the one who messed up? So then you force yourself to adhere to the rules. You ignore your disinterest in favor of making others happy. You trip over yourself to make living in society easier.
This is bull! Nobody should feel hollow because they didn’t live up to the standards of others. My grandfather used to say, “if you’re going to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” He didn’t think that’s all a person could be but he wanted us to understand that so long as its your best and its your decision, then do it. There are homeless in the world who, though lacking the finer things of this materialistic society, find happiness in being able to breathe. There are those that live on unreliable income doing jobs that they love.
I don’t want dreams to stop, I want dreams to be goals. I want the typical roles to be expanded to include the paths most people rarely give thought to. There’s so much more out there than the basics and by the time you’re half way through college, you can’t help but question if you are doing the right thing.
I told my friend that he should focus on finding the little things that interest him again. Once he’s sure of that, then he can go on to finish his degree in an area where he’d be happy. Money is sadly what controls the world but I still push and support my friends to pick happiness over money.
Decisions are hard, especially in this day and age. My hope is that we can start making decisions that we’re proud of instead of doing what makes others proud. We don’t need to be perfect….
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