If you had asked me one year ago what I wanted to do after I graduated from university, I would have told you confidently that I wanted to score a steady job and that I wanted to do “grown-up things” like taxes, changing car tires, mowing the lawn (am I the only one that thinks this is a “grown-up task”?), etc.
However, things change.
When I look back at myself from a year ago, I see that I had in fact wanted many things. I wanted to do more than find a job worthy of my degrees. I wanted more than to earn oodles of cash and to be debt-free. I wanted to do more than move out and start a family. I had, in the back of my mind, big, beautiful and exciting dreams for my life. Dreams of traveling in South America, of wandering ancient cities by foot, of finally perfecting and mastering the French language. Some days I would promise myself these things and yet other days I would tell myself they won’t happen because they do not follow “The Plan”. You know what I mean by “The Plan”, don’t you? It’s that path that has somehow been engrained into our minds ever since we stepped into our first classroom – Step 1: Elementary School, Step 2: Junior High, Step 3: High School, Step 4: University, Step 5: Get a Job, Step 6: Raise a Family, Step 7: Retire.
Now understand that I’m not trying to stigmatize this path that is actually a wonderful and fulfilling path for those who desire it. I admire people who are able to pursue and attain what they seek in life regardless of what those things may be. But what I am writing about today has more to do with how somewhere along the way in my university career, I became disillusioned to believe that this particular plan was the only right answer for me and for everyone. I believed it so much that I was willing to completely forget and trash my big and beautiful dreams.
When things took a turn in my life after graduating and when I didn’t score “the job”, I was shaken. I felt as if I was failing myself. But because I stumbled off course, my original dreams and desires began to resurface little by little. I began building new friendships with people. I became inspired by their mentality of taking life by the horns and for earnestly pursuing what makes them happy whether it be studying in Norway or moving away from home just to become fluent in another language. These ideas seemed radical to me at first. It seemed like it couldn’t be done in my own life. But then I thought, why not? Why do I feel like I am chained to only one path? What’s stopping me from exploring the world and embarking on new adventures? The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
So an opportunity arose that tested my new beliefs. I have one chance to move to Québec for nine months to teach English and to travel. The pay isn’t stellar, but that is not important to me at this point in my life. What gets me excited is the fact that I will be immersed in French and I will be able to explore and travel. After much prayer and thought, I decided that this is what I want to do. When I told my parents what I had decided, they were disappointed – especially when I told them how much I would be earning. Their disappointment made me question my decision, did I make a wise choice? Should I have chosen a job that would earn more money? And that led to another question: what is important to me right now? I am not a rash person, so I can honestly tell you that it is not earning a lot of money, buying a house, taking out a lease on a car, and settling down. What is important to me is that I do one thing for myself that I have always wanted to do since high school – and that is to become completely fluent in French. What is important to me is seeing the world (or the other side of the country), meeting new people, trying new things, and broadening my perspectives. This desire has grown unbearably stronger each year, especially after my semester in France. Am I to ignore this one thing that gives me such joy just for the sake of earning more money? Are these dreams of mine really so trivial and worthless?
This led me to reevaluate my decision. I asked myself, what is stopping me from going through with this? And the only things I could come up with was that I wouldn’t be signed to a school board early like a lot of my peers and that my teaching certificate would expire by the time I returned from Québec (in which case I could just reapply). Well really! If those are the only reasons, I really don’t see any detriment or harm to my career in pursuing this one little thing. I am more likely to regret not going than going.
This is just the start my journey to self-discovery and of gradually breaking the system that I had once thought I would always follow. As it turns out, we only live once – is it so important that I dive into the workforce straightaway at this point in my life?
I know that I for one, intend to live a little.