Go Out and Eat the World
“I get kind of nervous whenever I think about careers and what not,” my friend texted me.
What my brainless reply could have been? “Don’t worry. Just work hard and you’ll be fine.” But for obvious reasons, that seemed like an inadequate response. After all, “don’t worry” wouldn’t make me feel any better and soon I’ll be faced with the exact same nerves. So I thought about it.
The other day I was reading Emily’s blog (which is awesome, check it out here) and in a particular post she wrote about finding your passion. She used to think it would be an “Aha!” moment but lately she’s come to realize that figuring out what you love to do is a process. In order for this process to be possible, you need exposure to all sorts of subjects and skills. Cue college.
I like to think of college as a buffet. It’s this great place where you can fill your plate with all sorts of different foods and figure out which ones you find nasty and which ones you find tasty and most importantly why (what are the spices that stand out for you?). I love this metaphor because it also allows for an easy understanding of the saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew”. If you fill your plate too full, you’ll end up having a stomachache later on. Luckily, there’s always next semester to try new foods.
Until there isn’t. Graduation is inevitable. Cue my friend’s text. After we graduate from college, we should have a pretty sure idea about what we want to do in life, right?
The other day I was reading a book about a Harvard study known as “The Grant Study”, which documented the lives of 268 men over 75 years. One of the things I found interesting about this study was why the scientists felt inspired to conduct it in the first place. They felt there weren’t enough studies and data about adult development. There are plenty of studies about child development but when it comes to adults, there are fewer studies and a big part of the reason for this is because there are fewer people who believe we continue to develop.
But here’s what’s odd: why do we have this mentality (which in turn influences our actions) that growing and learning is something that should slow down as we get older?
So I told my friend “Don’t worry.” But I didn’t say it in a “I don’t really know what to tell you” kind of way, I meant it in the sense that you have the power to change the course of your life every day, so if tomorrow doesn’t work out for you, just readjust. Don’t worry. If you graduate from college and end up in a career you don’t love, it’s not like you’re out of options, end of story. You can learn new skills. It’ll be hard work, but don’t all things that are worthwhile take some effort? And anyway, that effort, making goals for yourself, learning and growing, that’s what gives people drive and meaning. That’s what life is all about. Or, at least, that’s my opinion.
It’s funny because this is something I’ve come to realize during my gap year and now I can’t help notice all the different ways in which people are trying to communicate the same advice. In Orange is the New Black, Piper Chapman smiles thinking about her grandmother’s guidance: “Go out and eat the world Piper! Don’t you get stuck at home with some man.”
So, I hope you do; I hope you go out and experience the world!