June 19, 2024

From nearly the beginning of our lives, one constant question is asked of us: “What do you want to do with your life?” It starts as an icebreaker question in elementary school. Maybe your answer was to be president, a doctor or something more obscure like a world-famous deep sea animal vet. In the early days, we were encouraged to think big and taught that the future held infinite possibilities.

As we grew older, we were told to think smaller and that our large dreams were simply not realistic. Money became more of an object enforced on our futures. Reality broke through the fog of our naive delusion. 

By the time college rolls around, very few people have a genuine idea of what the future holds. Some may pretend they have a clear path ahead, but roadblocks happen. Life changes and we grow. The cycle of knowing what is happening next tightens, as the focus of getting internships, jobs and starting real life is constantly on students’ minds. Our capitalist society is so ingrained into our brains that choosing labor for money is always at the edge of our present attention.

I am guilty of it too, sacrificing my mental health to pretend I knew what lied ahead. I subconsciously impersonated someone who was comfortable in the environment of being told to know the future, even if the path chosen is known to be a twisting and uncertain one.

Especially as a journalism major, which tends to be lower-paying than many other majors, we need to work twice as hard to secure a career with decent pay. More art-focused majors face this problem more than other major types, as many of us have chosen to follow our passions rather than money. Not to say that other majors aren’t also following passions, but the money isn’t quite there for more art-based majors, as wealth is almost never the main goal. The looming threat of capitalism, not making it in the world, and having art never be seen is existence.

We as a collective student culture need to learn to embrace the unknown with more open, accepting arms. It is okay to explore our true passions later in life and to change on a whim. We’re not locked into one path of life. We need to focus more on the relationships around us, the people and emotions we miss by seeing life in tunnel vision and stop putting pressure on ourselves to know what is happening next.

Who knows? Maybe the trail that one never sees coming could be the best one.

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