In my 2 years in America, and all through junior college (11th and 12th grade) in India, I have seen this enough times. At some point between the ages of 16 and 22, one starts wondering, what am I doing with my life?
Why am I writing this?
Ever since middle school, I have always been the “advice giver” in my friend circle. People come to me for advice because they assume I will have an answer. And most of the time, I do. Words are my strength so I know how to play around with them, and I am happy to use that to a friend’s advantage when they need it. I am writing this because in so many years of “advice giving”, this question about life has been the most interesting one.
“What am I doing with my life?”
Well, some people come into college with a clear goal and they make it through with a 4.0 GPA and a great job at the end of 4 years. And, that is great! I mean, it can’t get better and clearer than that. But, most people go through what I like to call a “mid-college-life crisis” when they just cannot figure out where they are headed, why they chose the college they did, the major they did, if it was even their choice, or if they even believe in the idea of education. And, do I get to give advice because that’s just how it has been since I was 10?
No, I get to share this because I have asked those questions too. I have had my lows, and I have been through a terrible semester where I couldn’t focus or decide what I really wanted. Do I know now? No, but I am happier! I always lived by the John Lennon quote that says life’s ultimate purpose is, “to be happy”. And at some point during last summer, I stopped being happy. It had been a lingering feeling that started in my second semester here and it just peaked in the third. I completely lost myself and that’s why when somebody who’s lost comes to me now, I know what to say.
I now look for happiness. Contrary to belief, happiness does not look for you. Nobody and nothing is looking for you. YOU have to look for everything. And I look for happiness very unapologetically. Because, to hell with the world, I will be happy at the end of that find!
It’s okay to ask yourself those questions. It’s okay to ponder about life and careers and to be a little confused. It’s not the end of the world, and it happens to more people than you think it does. The very fact that you’re thinking means you want to take responsibility for your life, and you want it to be the best it can be. So just work towards that. Take a break; enjoy some time off. The greatest thing about being in college compared to working a job is that we get breaks. We actually get weeks at a time to get ourselves together.
Now, moving on to a scary word: Summer!
What am I going to do for the summer? Do I have an internship or a job? Am I going to make any money? Will I be jobless? What will my parents think? What will my community think? What will my friends think
Stop for a moment and see what you think. Do you look at yourself as a loser having lived life the way you did? For instance, last summer I was the only one to have a proper full time paying job in my friend circle, and that’s difficult in freshman year especially as an international student. Most people end up going home. This summer, I’m not that sure. Why? Because I screwed up! I screwed up big time and I screwed up a semester in a way I couldn’t have ever imagined.
Did I feel bad? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. Do I still feel bad? Of course I do! But am I going to let it affect the rest of my time here?
It is difficult. You feel like you’re wasting your parents’ money, you’re wasting your life, you don’t have a plan and everyone else is doing better than you.
But realize that EVERYONE IS DOING THE SAME THING! So, if you don’t have a job, go back home and spend time with the people that really matter. Sometimes, we need time to ourselves to be able to refocus. I know I did.
If you have no idea what to do with your life, that’s fine too! I don’t. And am I the greatest example of all time? No. But I’m saying you’re not in it alone. There is AT LEAST one more person in it with you, that’s 50% burden shared right there! And from all the advice I have given in this semester alone, I think the percentage distribution is way better than just 50%. And of course that doesn’t mean we can all just lay back and relax. It means since we’re all in it together, we can all learn from each other and work towards bettering that distribution! All that anything needs to keep moving in the right direction is work: college, career, relationships, families, etc.
And for work to be done, the single most important thing is: Belief. All the physics geeks can say it’s force and distance and that’s fine too. The belief is your force here! Believe in everything you do! Do not continue to do something that makes you unhappy because that is not helping anything or anyone. Dream. I am big on dreams and I believe dreaming is the second biggest tool in getting anything done. The first of course if Imagination! Imagine big, dream bigger, work harder, and smile the widest.
As a generation, we’re stressed. But we’ve got this. College is about discovering and rediscovering oneself, and hitting the lowest bottoms to make it to the top! So, if you’ve been hitting too many bottoms, believe there is a top and you are absolutely going to get there (provided you work towards it)!
Of course, I’m not just leaving you with this heavy structure of motivational words. Here’s a spoken word song that has everything I want to say to you (and the only YouTube video I’ve seen that has close to no negative comments!), that I couldn’t fit in one column but Mary Schmich did, way back in 1997 when I was 2! It has uplifted me all along. And, I hope it does the same for you!