Everyone, but especially stressed out college students, often believes that if you work hard enough at something, you can achieve your career dreams and find success in the future. But is this true? In reality, striving for a specific goal can make your present blurry, obscuring you from living a carefree career path. There is so much stress, especially when attending an elite university like Tulane, to be the best and to strive for the best opportunities.
I just recently started my first real internship and after just the first day, I was left wondering: what does being the best even mean? I became eager to get into this field of work, so I asked someone, “what can I do to get your job?” I got a surprising answer in return. I was looking for some simple tips on clubs to join or internships to look for in the future, but instead I got an answer that intensified my eagerness to follow in her footsteps: “Well, it just kind of happened. I worked hard in college, my major had no correlation with this field, but the stars kind of aligned and here I am.”
The first thing I thought to myself was, “what am I supposed to do with that?” Of course I work hard in school, but I wanted to know how to be just like her to get a job like hers in the future. Not wanting to be too pushy on my first day, I moved along to my next question. As I went back to my desk, I really thought about her response.
No one is going to have the same experiences in career paths or life at all. There is no one way of achieving something, there is no one way of becoming successful, and there is no one way of accomplishing your goals. There is just you, your way and your path. Trust me, this is hard to acknowledge; we all want the assurance of a future that excites and provides stability, but there is no magic looking glass that can assure anyone of that. There is a sense of trust you have to grab on to as you grow older; it is a trust that involves believing that your efforts will get you somewhere. Although you have a ton of influence and power in the direction you take in life, there is a wind that is going to move you that you can’t control. This is a scary, yet exciting feeling. I don’t want to have my future completely planned, and I certainly don’t want to ever be stagnant. There is always a certain level of unpredictability when exploring different avenues of life, which can be a positive, thrilling force. There is a path for everyone, so appreciate the people and experiences you intersect with on your journey. They are meant to guide you.
Although I am saying all of this to offer some stress relief , even with fate, you need to have a certain level of drive and determination. Nothing is going to come to you without being open to new opportunities and seeking experience. This is what perpetuates your journey. I have taken on this internship out of my home state and am living in a completely new environment on my own, taking on this adventure just for the pure experience of it. In just one day, I have learned so much, helping me gain knowledge for how to direct my future. I believe that I am meant to be here working in this setting in this time in my life. Although at times it feels like a huge, scary commitment, the emotional/mental payoff is beyond worth it. So, although I’m just an incoming sophomore in college, I would like to believe that between hard work, drive and a little bit of fate people are destined for greatness.
I had a meeting with someone at my office later on and got excellent advice that I think sums up this topic pretty well. He told me to “have planned ignorance.” At first, I was thrown off at that advice. “Planned ignorance” doesn’t sound appealing to someone starting off the search for a career. He further explained this as being open and willing to ask the “dumb” questions in a work environment, because this not only allows you to learn and step out of your comfort zone, but also to question the people who have been doing their day-to-day steps for so long. He explained that this allows people who have been working in the same job for years to ask themselves why—why they are doing something the way they are, and why it is still efficient. It is important, no matter what stage of your career you are in, to be prepared to ask these questions, analyze your path, and be open to whatever twists and turns can come along the way. It is important to be ignorant.
COVER PHOTO: Tiny Buddha