As someone currently preparing for the terrible storm that every college student knows as “finals,” a few things have been running through my head. My initial thought? How nervous I am and how I could possibly be able to schedule out all my time to study for all my tests and pass with a good amount of success. Hooray, Dead Week (for those of you lucky to have one). Personally, I’m not someone who likes to settle for a C. It’s bound to happen at one point in my career, but today is not that day (I hope). Along with this whole “freaking out” over final exams comes the questions that run through everyone’s minds, I’m sure: What happens if I don’t pass? What does it say about my career choice? Is this path that I want to travel truly the right path for me? And if not, what am I supposed to do with my life then?
Ahh, the big question. “What am I supposed to do with my life?” This is what sucks: though I’m sure this feeling of uncertainty probably popped up over various decades, the pressure for young adults to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives is weighing down more heavily than ever. I mean, at the age of 17 or 18, we open up our college apps and pick a major: Biology, Engineering, Architecture, Art History, Philosophy, the list is endless. And while we want to pick something that we enjoy, there’s always that parent or family member that expects you to be a doctor or a lawyer and scoffs at you if you simply mention the idea of Fashion Design. And it’s like, HELLO?! Our brains are still developing. We are old enough to make some of our own decisions, but not old enough to solidify them just yet. We must not forget that this world is constantly, changing, and that includes the young population of today.
And has high school properly equipped us to fight this battle that is the adult world? I think not. Our generation’s education system has done a pretty brutal job of testing how well we can stuff multiple subjects of information in our head while seeing how it takes a toll on our mental and physical health. While I for one can say I found some enjoyment in being able to balance myself out by participating in a handful of musical curricular activities while still maintaining a high GPA, I can say that at least half of the stuff I learned in high school I have forgotten and will probably never use. Ever. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but as a future doctor, will I really need to find trigonometry to find some kind of defect in the angle of a person’s elbow bend? No… Like, what? And as an architect, is it necessary to know how to play the diminished 7th chord on a piano? Perhaps not. I have to give the American education system some credit; I admit that we should be more diverse in our learning and really keep our eyes open to what we may want to pursue, but there’s only so much of this that the institution can feed us before it starts to choke us. I think everyone should learn a little bit of history so that tragedies of the past may not reincarnate themselves on us if we are improperly educated on a matter. It’s also nice for people to learn how to sing a perfect harmony to get their creativity flowing. But we can’t always get what we want.
I think what bothers me, along with many others, is the fact that most secondary schools fail to teach us valuable life skills like how to budget, how to cook, how to prevent credit card fraudulence, etc. Some people enter college with little to no understanding on how to do any of these things and for lack of a better phrase, they’re well, kind of f*cked. There are organizations like Girl Scouts and recreational classes that people can participate in to learn this stuff, but that costs money. And if a child lives in an uncomfortable situation where a parent or guardian may not be able to provide this type of guidance, because education is pretty much paid for the first 18 or so years of your life, shouldn’t the system be focusing on taking complete advantage of this? I’ve shared videos from the 60’s where men actually had legitimate, body working physical education courses and where women were required to take self-defense classes. What happened to this, huh? My generation has been blessed with an abundance of technology and opportunity. And with a growing number of young entrepreneurs, inventors, and the whole list of geniuses, we all kind of expect that we can only move the human race forward. However, technology has also caused us to retrograde in a sense. We can navigate to a desired destination by typing out an address on a GPS. But what happens when we don’t have signal or battery? How many of us actually know how to use a map? We waste our time laughing at vines and retweeting the latest Kim Kardashian memes, but when we turn on the news and see protests and violence and disaster around the world, we can choose to change the channel. Push a button, the bad disappears. Push another button, something we want becomes ours. It’s sad and selfish and leaves me wondering many-a-night on how this could possibly the future, and what it will do to the future. Now I know not everyone is going to be like this, but as younger generations become more and more tech savvy, I can’t help but worry.
Okay, what now? This brings me back to the question of “what am I supposed to do with my life?” If you’re stuck in a rut and feeling like you’re useless because you don’t exactly know what to do, DON’T LET IT GET TO YOU. You are still young, and even if half of your friends and classmates are getting married or having kids, remember that you are not them, and you set your own pace. But what about money? F*ck money. Yes, money has pretty much proclaimed itself as the ruler of the world, but it isn’t everything. Be happy first. If you find your passion and create something amazing out of it, money will come. You will be able to make it somehow. Still feeling useless? Go out and educate yourself. Do good deeds. Learn the lessons that your dumb, old high school probably didn’t teach you. Turn on that TV and watch the news, but also, understand that there may be some corruption in the way the media portrays a situation. Donate to an organization that helps with disaster relief. Even a dollar helps. Volunteer to tutor kids and teach them how to paint. We often forget the wonder and innocence of children because we worry so much about all the tasks we have to get done. Talk to someone on the street. Ask them their life story. Smile. Give them a compliment. Do a random act of kindness. These things seem so miniscule compared to the creation of the latest smart phone or a new cancer drug, but these things make a difference too. I talk about how I used to always be such a bitter person, but after taking random adventures alone to clear my mind and sharing water or food with people I just met, I feel happier and hope that the people I met feel happier too, whether or not I see them again. You may not know what career you want, but you have a purpose in life, which is to find your own way to make the world a better place. And when you find the ways you like interacting with people, and you mold this with your personal skills, your career WILL come. We worry so much about being stable and rich, but stability and richness is not only found in materialistic goods. There is a line in a song that goes, “treasure is measured in units of love, which means you may find that you are rich beyond your wildest dreams.”
So my friends, worry not about failing. This is NOT me telling you to abandon your flashcards, burn the nearest textbook, and bomb your final exams (although the sheer thought of bad-assery is pretty tempting). No one really tries to fail on purpose. It happens. We’re human. And it’s cliché to say, but it’s all part of a learning experience. Whether it be in a class or a relationship or another life situation, take this opportunity to step back and ask yourself: what went wrong and what can I do to make it better next time? If you can do better, always do it. And in it, you will find yourself eventually. Soul searching is a long journey, but we are all on this path. Never forget that somehow, somewhere you have people out there rooting for you. And when you meet that random bum on the street and buy him a sandwich, who knows? He’ll probably end up rooting for you too. Do not let finals get the best of you. First and foremost, worry about your own health. Then go and spread it to others because they might need it. Life is so much more than sitting in a cubicle for 10 hours. Life is about the people you come home to after those 10 hours. The pressure is on, but remember that failure is only failure if you refuse to pick yourself up. Remember that love and humility is worth more than money. The world may say otherwise, but compare Manny Pacquiao, congressman, singer, and loving dad, to Floyd Mayweather, a man who owns a plethora of cars and his own personal jet, but also cussed out an interviewer, and beat his wife. Who is more of the people’s person? Who has made more positive impact?
I believe that you can make it. I may or may not really know you. We may have drifted apart. We may be new friends. But there’s nothing wrong in giving a fellow human being a push of encouragement. Amidst the stress and breakdowns and overeating, we all have a voice. Do not be afraid of that voice. You may be struggling through thorn bushes and low branches on your path, but it’s still a path. Hell, dance your way through that path. And you will still get somewhere. Educate yourself. Take matters into your own hands. You will be fine. And with that, happy studying. 🙂