I was talking with my friend Sara the other day, and she was telling me about her plans after graduation. A set of plans that she had anticipated ended up not panning out. She is completely free and lacking plans after graduation. This led to a conversation which helped me tangibly understand some stuff that had been very vaguely on my mind for the past couple of weeks.
I guess it started at the beginning of the semester. After discussing my writing with a teacher, I felt horrible. The project that I’ve been working on since senior year of high school was not up to “professional writing standards,” or something like that. I repeatedly peered over my writing, trying to understand. Every time I stared at the words on the page, I felt worse and worse. Everything about the writing, from the selection of the words to the character development and plot arrangement felt fanboy-ish. I was appalled with myself.
My only dream since my childhood has been to be a writer. To create worlds, stories, ideas. To share experiences with others. To envelope people in a setting that they would never be able to experience for themselves. To look at my Science Fiction and see everything I have never seen about it was horrifying. I realized two things. One: I can make my writing better. It can always be better. Two: My writing doesn’t have to be amazing to everyone. It just has to make me happy.
The second is where the story with Sara picks up.
In elementary and middle school, individuals who apply themselves, persevere and achieve highly are congratulated, greatly and often. We challenge and support these students, encouraging them to be the best that they can possibly be. We nurture dreams of conquering the world, of writing for the New York Times, being a Novelist, finding the cure for cancer, digging up a dinosaur greater than the T-Rex and other world-changing careers. These students make it through high school, continuously over-achieving, being amazing, and working the system.
Then in college, they climb the same ladder. Students work hard, earn good grades and take as many classes as they can in areas that interest them. Which brings us to where my friends and I are. Sara related a conversation with her parents, where they said that she doesn’t have to have an incredible career – she just has to be happy.
My current epistemology greatly resembles this remark. I’ve spent my whole life wanting to see my name on the New York Times Bestsellers list, on a movie or TV screen, on a playbill. I lost myself in the “this is what I want to do” so much that I forgot “this is what I love doing” and “this is what makes me happy.”
The system has influenced me so much. Creating a life plan (what I want to do, where I want to be) is awesome and essential. But I think one of the most significant lessons I have learned from college is that sometimes (almost always, really), we have to roll with the punches. Being flexible is important, because sometimes we are forced into situations where the plan does not exactly work out.
As an ex-girlfriend often said, “It is important to live life with no expectations.” Yes, this does reflect on the daily life of the individual – don’t expect this or that to happen – but more importantly on larger life expectations. We can live our dreams to a lower scale. We don’t have to have everything planned out. Take risks. Because the best things in life happen because of risks.
An individual can do whatever they want with their life, as long as they are happy/satisfied with their choices/decisions.