It’s 3 am and I’m scouring the internet for a career. I’m well into my 30s with two degrees and I’m asking myself “what do I want to be when I grow up?”.
I have a job. It’s not bad – good pay, decent hours for part-time, and even benefits.
But I feel suffocated. I dread going to work most days and when I’m there, I watch the clock for when I can leave. The job itself is okay, but my hands automatically type and my eyes scan the information without much prompting.
And it’s driving me slowly batty.
I was lucky. When I graduated from high school, I picked a university that gave me a full scholarship based on my grades. Then, when I went off to get my masters, I picked another university that nearly paid for the ride with scholarships and work pay.
What broke my luck was my degree choice.
No one told me that I’d be sitting here one day with a lot of useless degree baggage no one wanted to claim.
Going into my bachelor’s, I picked geology. I loved the idea of working with the earth and the creatures stuck in its hard shell. I grew excited going to my geology classes and loved sitting in lectures. But math struck with a big fat C in calculus.
I was a perfectionist. Type A all the way and getting any grade below a B was akin to failing. I wish I had told myself not to run scared to my adviser to change my degree to English.
I wish I had an adviser that had the courage to tell me to pick something else.
I wish I could have thought of my future and not solely about my interests and playing it safe.
Getting my degrees in English was wonderful. I genuinely loved the courses and I loved reading all of the arcane texts. I learned how to interpret, how to read not only passages but human behavior. I became more of a person through my degree and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
But what I wish I could change was my focus. Instead of having a degree where my job prospects include teaching and more teaching, I could have minored in English and majored in, say, health, business or other real-world focus.
This year, millions of bright, young adults will be clutching new high school degrees and dreaming about “big things.” They’ll be told that they can do anything, be anything. They’ll pick degrees, choose paths that will guide them through at least four years or thirty years or more. And while some will find the right path, many will find theirs lined with deceptive quicksand.
For all of those graduating and hearing the speeches about dreams: look at your feet. See them firmly on the ground.
Keep them there.
Don’t be afraid to dream. Don’t be afraid to reach for those dreams. But remember to keep your feet on the ground. Grab the dreams and hold their balloon weight in your hand, but keep your feet from flying away.
Life is a mix of dreams and reality. Learn to mix them for dreams alone are like vapor. And when the vapor clears, all that’s left is hard reality.