To Be or Not To Be

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

I don’t know if you all know this, but the original Hamlet “to be or not to be” quote is about suicide, and today I’m changing that association. This blog post is about living. You’ll see.

Well it’s a Friday night, the end of a four-day week, and what I hope has been a good day for you. This week has been a bit hectic in my life, classic quarter system week 7 with more midterms, projects, story reviews etc. The list goes on.

Maybe it’s because week 7 of my winter quarter is over and I’m realizing that I will only ever be able to say that one more time in my college career, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately… All of our paths.

Not a single one of them has been linear. Let me explain why this matters so much.

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Something about American culture, especially in my generation and below, makes us feel the need to compare ourselves and where we’re at with one another. You were either an early bird or a late bird, GATE or not GATE in elementary school. Then middle school and high school: you were in accelerated math/english or not, you were an AP student or not. We have grown up comparing ourselves to one another.

Even when it’s not really fair.

But now, when you get to age 20 or 21, most of our lives can’t be compared that easily. In college, we’re all in different majors and outside of college, everyone is doing something different.

Some people are married with kids, others are single and travelling the world—the rest of us are somewhere in between.

And somewhere between point A and… wherever we are now, someone told us that we’re supposed to be doing what all the other people are doing. But think about that. When we’re all doing something different, that makes “success” impossible. I guess what I’m saying is, with that attitude, we’ve been raised to fail.

Don’t you see that?

Photo by Emma Dau on Unsplash

The way I’ve been living my college years so far, at least the first two, I did things because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. From clubs to orientation, I joined things and became a part of my campus because I figured it was what I should do. If all my friends found themselves liking college by doing that, I thought it would make me happier here.

Long story short, it didn’t.

I felt out of touch with this campus, my schoolwork, and so much else that makes me who I am. After two years of doing things that I thought was good or right or better, I started listening to myself and trusting my gut.

But even more so, I began asking for help if I really wasn’t sure.

Then things started changing.

My relationships began to feel intentional, my goals started to feel more like mine, and my place on this campus started to feel a little more comfortable.

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

Because I stopped looking at where everyone else was and started to think about where I wanted to be. That’s it. The only person I ever need to be is a little bit better than the girl I was yesterday. Sometimes, there will be steps back and other times there will be four steps forward.

No matter what, this week I’ve learned to let myself just exist as I am and stop comparing so much. Maybe now I can figure out what my own success might actually look like.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope you are all doing alright. Happy Friday.

Life is like a Palindrome- But not Quite

Did you know that starting on the tenth, this entire week of dates has been a set of palindromes? Take a look, they read the same way backwards as they do forward: 7/10/17, 7/11/17… 7/17/17.  What a crazy life we’re living isn’t it?

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Anyway, that was your fun fact for the week and today I am writing about something that isn’t as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: Choosing our paths.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past vs. my future and everything in between. I’ve been out of high school for over a year and after catching up with friends in the short time I have been back home, it’s amazing to me how much some of us have changed. Our mindsets seem a little more practical, the way we act has matured just a bit, and our heads are now set in another direction… We are no longer the scared/excited/lost freshman trying to find our way around campus we had been. We’re growing up.

As we keep moving, we are handed a little more responsibility here and a couple more things to consider there. Going into my sophomore year of college, I’m switching my major— little did I know how difficult and complicated that would be when I first showed up. But I’m switching to a major that doesn’t have the best reliability when it comes to jobs once I graduate, ideally, in the next 3 years. With the way things are going, the issue with jobs doesn’t only apply to me; that seems to be the case for a lot of us.

So we play our cards right, add a minor or score all the right internships we can possibly find along the way to where we want to be in the working world— possibly.

I say possibly because, well the truth is, a lot of us have a pretty good idea of where we want to be in five years. Or at least a rough estimate. Others of us have no idea where we want to be in the next two. Yet once each of us gets there, we will probably be somewhere entirely different. My generation is said to be filled with high achieving students that have even higher aspirations. I know I definitely have some of those high aspirations in mind. But the truth is, as reality sets in, our plans change a little bit and we begin to adapt to the paths that we started on.

Sooner or later we begin to realize what we can or cannot have in this world isn’t always up to us. Sometimes it’s all about circumstance. And we cannot always change those.

But we can change who we are because of them, we can adapt. If we don’t, we either get what we wanted or find out that there are other people willing to do what we weren’t. As they say, such is life.

osman-rana-263702When I was younger, I had this dream of doing something that I still carry with me in the back of my mind: I wanted to change the world. I used to think it was impossible for one person to do that. Now I’m not so sure.

You know the butterfly effect, where small causes can have larger impacts? Well, that is the embodiment of my dream. Just because I say I want to change the world doesn’t mean I need to impact 7.4 billion people all by myself to do it. All it means is that I need to effect a few people, who in turn impact a couple more, and before you know it, I’ve changed the worlds of enough people for it to matter.

That’s all any of us can ask for.

Now take that idea and apply it to the paths we are choosing— the butterfly effect is still in play. Because if any of us have dreams, a place we see ourselves in 5 years, there are ways to make that happen. Maybe it costs too much to dream that big, but if you save twenty dollars here and thirty there, sooner or later you’re saved enough for rent or a big move to that city you’ve been dreaming of for so long. Or what if you’re not experienced enough to get where you want to go? You’ve got to snag an internship one year, try to network your way into another, and maybe in time you can find yourself in the heart of the goals you hold in your own.

The thing is, the paths we choose and those dreams that many of us have, we can only reach them if we put in the work to get there.

Because, we’re growing up. All of those friends in our lives we consider to be “our people” right now may not be the same ones here later on. And some of those aspirations we think mean so much to us now may not hold as much weight in the long run. If there is any time for our lives to be changing, to be rearranging into something else, this is it.

We may be choosing paths to begin the rest of our lives on, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay on it— there is always another direction take and another opportunity to find as we make our ways to the future we cannot always control.

dawid-zawila-279998Like I said, it’s not as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: life isn’t supposed to be. We’re supposed to get lost a few times, pick ourselves up, and keep going. Because we only get one life to live, and this truly is a beautiful life we’re living.