Feet to move, places to roam
I once had a professor that told our class a brief story during our lecture period that altered the way I now answer the question “What do you do for a living?” It went like this:
“I was at a social gathering one evening, and as I went and introduced myself to a crowd of people I had never met before, one gentlemen asked “What do you do?” Naturally I responded with “Well, I nap, I garden, I eat…” and with a confused expression on the mans face followed by an awkward laugh he replied “No for a living”. My professor then proceed to explain the moral of the story and why her story was important. Even though she knew that the gentlemen wanted to know what she did as a career, she figured that she is defined as much more than a teacher and what she does for work.
We have all been asked that identical question when we meet someone new for the first time. If it is while we are traveling, or it is used as an ice breaker in a conversation, but however we choose to answer the overused phrase is how we define and view ourselves. Some people are afraid of the reaction they will get from others if it is an answer that they are not confident in sharing, some know it will branch out into another story that will guarantee no awkward pauses, and some just do not mind sharing what they do as a profession because their career is what they live and breathe. After my professor concluded telling her story, which left the class in smiles and giggles, it comforted us to know that our own professor realizes that we all aspiring teachers, but are more than just that, and we are more than just students. Her story made me begin contemplating what I will now say the next time someone asks me “What do you do?”It then led into another chain of thoughts which were ‘Why do I need a successful career at 21?’
I have and always will continue to say, even when I am 70, I feel bad for the people who are in a rush to grow up. (“People are off having babies and I am like, what country am I going to next?”) Why do I say this? Because why would you want to waste away some of the most crucial and self defining years of your life, that you will never get back, preparing for a job or sitting in an cubicle, with the same view you will be looking at for the next 40 years, when there are numerous other activities and adventures you can embark on that I can guarantee will prepare you more for the real world than shadowing a grumpy 60 year old man who does not even like his job. Inspire and work towards a goal that is realistic or even far beyond what you believe is in your reach, and know that it makes you happy every single day. Do not waste precious hours of your youth working on a career you have no interest in doing, but knowing at the end of the day you made a decent chunk of cash. Although there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, cautious, and driven with your goals, I personally do not see the satisfaction in settling down into a career in your early 20’s when you have the rest of your life to progress at the same job. Are the benefits that you have a steady paycheck and two weeks vacation throughout the year? I think the perks of being a student for the next two years sounds more rewarding than that (I still make great money while being a student, travel and get at least 4 months holiday). Although I cannot wait to graduate, the benefits I receive as a student for now work well with my current lifestyle.
Over the last several months, I have had a significant number of people in my life start to stress over the future. They ask themselves “Do I attend post secondary education or not? Will I work multiple part time jobs I have no real interest in or enjoy, but I need the money, so I guess I can’t quit? Is the city I live in the real problem or is it me? Will I ever even get a real career?” The list of scenarios are endless and although they are real struggles, almost everyone in there mid-20’s are bound to come across them eventually. Countless individuals blame the current city they live in for their problems, but running away from them will not magically solve them either. Moving abroad or to the next city over may give you a fresh perspective on life and light a fire inside you to become more motivated, but it will not cure whatever you tried to run away from in the first place. Moving across the pond and away from your hometown will help you grow as a person and impact your future decisions significantly, however the same problem will catch up with you sooner or later. You can always run, but you cannot hide forever. Maybe I just have always had the mentality that whatever is meant to be and whatever I am meant to do, will fall into place when it is ready for me, or maybe because I know what I want as a profession and what I want out of my life comforts me. I have a guideline, a timeline and a goal; nothing about the future scares me as much as it does for others.
It is healthy to have that era in your life when you run wild and free, to be slightly spontaneous but with a plan laying ahead somewhere down the line waiting for you for when you ready to pursue it. You are not defined by what you do, but how you do it.