Do you remember when it hit you? That moment when you realize exactly what you wanted to do in life. Sure, if you’re like me, sometimes you change your mind a million times before it all seems to click, but when that moment comes, you are so sure. Nothing could change your mind. At last, a sigh of relief fills your body. The hunt has come to an end and you’ve finally reached your treasure; something that will fill you with happiness and contentment for years to come-an answer.
This solution to life hit me about 6 months back. I was volunteering at a local elementary school in the Czech Republic. The children spoke little to no English, yet I was supposed to teach them. At first I was skeptical-this challenge simply seemed too hard to conquer. Then one day, I was struck with anxiety after the professor had an emergency and left me in the room alone, and with 20 pairs of young eyes staring at me, waiting for me to do something. Now I knew the kids had learned a few English songs, so with my best pantomime acting, I got the kids to stand up, sing the songs and do all the motions to go along with them. They were laughing, smiling and best of all, they followed along with my instructions! That’s when I had my moment. I was meant to be a teacher. I loved these children and they loved me. When the months ran out and it was time for me to return home to the US, I was given cards and endless hugs, and nearly had to drag myself out of the room while pulling kids off of my legs and arms.
It is after this time of realization such as mine that you begin to pursue your newly-found dream. You take classes on related subjects that interest you, you take on internships, volunteer, and spend hundreds of hours on the internet researching tricks to help you succeed (or, if you’re me, it’s more like thousands of hours). You have moments of triumph, where something goes right and you think, “Wow, I’m actually really good at this”. This career path is giving you confidence, which is exactly what you needed.
Then at some point, your confidence in your decisions plummets. Amidst all the chaos, you begin to lose sight of this dream that came to you a while back. Stress replaces happiness, and the classes and jobs you used to find fun now just seem like chores. All of that certainty about my future was replaced with questions: Am I really following the right path? Where will I live? Will I even be good enough? College students, I assume, can especially relate to this. If not, it will most-likely come to you someday.
Now let me take a moment to tell you my personal story. A few weeks back, these questions came flooding at me. I was working at a summer camp, where I was in charge of close to 20 kids. I made schedules for each day filled with fun and activities. Not long into the first week, I began to panic. Kids weren’t listening to me, they were having meltdowns, and some seemed to despise every game we played. “What was I doing wrong?” I thought. “Am I even meant to be a teacher? This is a lot harder than I thought-should I quit my path towards working with kids all-together?”
With my limited experience, my advice to all of you questioning life like past-me is this: remember the light-bulb idea that got you started on this path. College is not meant to be easy. Socially, mentally, and physically, going through big changes can feel like a boulder fell down on you and you’re stuck underneath, not knowing where to go or what to do. It’s at times when you’re feeling trapped that it becomes important to take a step back and remember why you are putting yourself through this in the first place. You were destined to do something with your life. In my opinion every life serves a purpose, but it’s the job of each individual person to figure out what that purpose is. If you think you have picked the major or career path that will make you happy, take that leap and go for it. Remember that moment when you realized exactly what you wanted to do with your life? You will finally get the chance to do it. Trust me, despite hundreds of tests, projects and hours of hard work, it will all be worth it in the end. It’s like Trisha Yearwood taught us: “What’s meant to be will always find a way”. Each experience I’ve had, good or bad, has become a learning experience. This journey is not easy, but I now know that sticking with it is just what I need to do. Following our dreams is a struggle, but we can’t let that stop us from reaching our end goals. Until your wishes come true, all I have to say is this: persist, stay calm, and don’t forget to smile as you go.