Recently, I had to make a résumé. I don't mean I updated it. I mean I actually parsed through a million templates and websites with "helpful tips" — all of which seemed to contradict each other — before finally cobbling together something professional.
I never needed a résumé before. I tutored in high school, but the process to get the job was so informal that having one was unnecessary, and I didn't apply to any colleges where that was a requirement. I put together a fake one for a registered nurse for a class once, but the idea of needing a résumé myself seemed so far away.
When I finished my best attempt, it was a little jarring. I felt like time had turned back one year, and I was staring at my completed Common App, wondering what I'd been doing all my life until that moment.
There's an anxiety that came from this, the belief that I should be doing more. I don't want to fault that belief. I think we can always be doing more but I also think that we sometimes take it too far.
A lot of the people I know are freshmen who are suddenly realizing that they need to be competitive, that they need to get involved wherever and whenever they can to make that "Experience" section as long as possible. They're hypervigilant about their grades and how many organizations they're in. The future is coming up really fast. We need to be ready for it when it does, especially since employment and security aren't a given.
Swap out "jobs" for "college," and you'll understand why this mindset feels very high school to me.
I've never liked the idea of doing something for the sake of how it will look in the future, instead of out of true enjoyment. Obviously, it's hard to separate subconscious rotten motivations from an actual love for whatever you're doing, since they're often so intertwined, but it feels that, too often, the primary motivation for so many is an external image.
We've stopped learning just for the sake of learning, playing just for the sake of playing and doing just for the sake of doing. Often, because of this, it feels as though we put other passions on the backburner. And honestly, that's so sad.
College is often idealized as the time to have the best experiences, to meet the best people, and finally become the person you want to be. However, that takes work.
Being goal-oriented is not a bad thing, and neither is being prepared for the future. Still, I know that if you're doing what you want to be doing, it remains worthwhile.