"So what do you wanna do?"
It's the question that every graduating high school senior and college student is all too familiar with. We are taught from a young age that after high school is the time to settle on a major and determine what you want to do for the rest of your life.
At 18 years old, an age in which we can't even legally rent a car, we are expected to choose our one and only career path - a decision that will impact us for years to come.
I think it's safe to say that many of us feel this pressure right away in high school. We are told to attend our "dream" school; to go into what we're deemed "good" at rather than what we might be interested in pursuing. Entering college, we are often expected to choose a major right away. But how can we know exactly what we want when most college students are just starting to find themselves?
When I was asked this question in high school, I had a simple answer. Journalism. I was good at writing and interested in talking with others - it made the most sense, right? But when I'm asked this today, a college junior, my answer is very different. I am a communication major with a focus on media arts. I like graphic design, photography, branding, marketing, and the overall production of media. I want to have more than a single career. I want to immerse myself in more than one interest. I want to apply my passions to many creative platforms and mediums. When I tell people this, they often laugh and assume that I just don't know what I want; that I'm simply confused about my major or my aspirations.
After hearing this comment again and again, I started to question myself. Do I know what I want? Is it even realistic?
And then *boom* - quarantine. The days of running to classes, work, and the dining hall quickly came to a halt and we adjusted to a new normal. For me, this new normal was based on filling up my free time after online homework and exams with design, music, and writing. I was able to spend time playing my guitars, teaching myself digital art (to an extent haha), and journaling. And, ultimately, I've been able to think about what I really want and where I want to be. And no, it doesn't look like the conventional 9 to 5. Within my field of interest, I want to do so much. But, ultimately I want to use my varying creative interests to help others whether it's through helping organizations/businesses build their brand or freelance graphic design work; whether it's photography or video editing. I don't want to specialize - I want to be a part of it all (or at least as much as I can possibly be).
In a time when energy has become stagnant and so many of us are struggling, why not take this time to explore what makes you happy? Why not take time to dive into what excites you and how it could add to your life? For many, quarantine has been the first time that we've had to slow down. Is there a book you've been wanting to read? Go pick it up! A song you've been wanting to learn? Go for it. To have the opportunity to take time for ourselves is really cool because it's something that so many of us forget about. Let's take advantage of it.
And no - you don't have to know what the rest of your life looks like nor do you have to settle for what the world is telling you to do. Ultimately, It's up to you.
So maybe next time you're asked "so what do you want to do?" know that no matter the response, you have control of your own life. Just because a few may not understand what you want, it doesn't diminish or invalidate your goals, regardless of how "unconventional" they may seem. Just have fun with it, put in the work, and go for it. Why not?