For most of my life the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" has struck fear in my heart. I remember being 8 years old and responding to that question with "a teacher," not because I wanted to teach, but because I was determined not to seem like I didn't know what I wanted to do. I still give people an answer that I don't really believe when they ask. Only now they aren't asking for fun, and the answer is important. But the truth is that I've never known exactly what career I want. I've spent hours taking quizzes and researching and worrying over my future career path. I'm jealous of every single person that I know who has a plan for the future and is able to stick to it. I expected to know by the end of high school, and then when that didn't happen, I expected to know by the end of college. And now I'm here, approaching my senior year of college, and I still don't know. Sure, I've narrowed down my interests, I've taken some influential classes and had leadership experiences that taught me important skills, but the future remains just as blurry to 20-year-old me as it was to my 8-year-old self, and the insecurity about my uncertainty remains.
But from this, I've been able to pursue opportunities that would have never been available to me if I had stuck to one goal. I've traveled and listened to global perspectives. I've studied everything from anthropology to coding. And I have discovered that there isn't one role where my abilities are especially valuable, rather, many roles where I could contribute and thrive and learn from the people around me. It isn't as viable an idea for people to have one career as it once was. Every single person is vastly complex, and their talents and skills are useful in so many realms. I don't want to spend fifty years doing one job. I'd much rather work in a variety of fields, learning as I go, always changing and looking for news ways to create and innovate. That doesn't sound like the most practical of plans, and it is certainly a privilege for me to be able to focus on my future in this way, but I also think that it opens up a world of opportunity. If I dedicate my life to helping people and following my passions, then I can inhabit many roles.
From now on, I'm going to focus on honing my skills and finding ways to be involved in companies and positions that I believe in, instead of worrying about the fact that I'm not on a path that leads straight to a job. I'm not saying there is anything at all wrong with dedicating your life to one field. That is an admirable course that I've spent my entire life chasing. But it isn't for everyone, and I'm finding that it's probably not for me. So, I'm still going to be intimidated by the future. There are still going to be times when I'm going to wish that I had a concrete plan, but I know that following my values and living a generous, adventure-filled life will lead me to the places I need to be, whether that means a long and prosperous career, or a different kind of life.