Monday, July 13, 2015

Don't Settle

            When I was in elementary school, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered without hesitation: second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles.  It was so naïve, but my face lit up every time I said it.  To put it simply, I loved baseball, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living.  Then a couple years went by, and a couple more, and at some point it became evident that I was never going to be a professional baseball player.
            Some say, with age comes wisdom.  In my experience, however, with age comes cynicism.  Not only do I no longer believe that I’ll play baseball professionally one day, but worse, I fear I’ll never find a job that brings me true enjoyment.  By some miracle that I cannot comprehend, many of my peers seem to know exactly what they’d like to do with their lives.  Meanwhile, I can’t decide whether I’d rather be a plumber or an investment banker (or more likely, neither).
            So, when did the future shift so dramatically from being a dream to a nightmare?  For most of my life, the future meant opportunity and independence, infinite possibility.  After all those years, though, this “future” is inevitably coming my way in May, and any sense of opportunity I once had has been replaced with fear and angst.  I can hardly explain what a marketing job entails; yet, I’m expected to find one that pays well enough that I no longer have to rely on my parents for support.
            Suppose I do find a job out of college, and I don’t hate it, and I’m not broke.  Perhaps, I’m doing something meaningful for this world.  I even have my own place and friends to share it with.  I get season tickets for the Orioles and play golf on the weekends.  My life is shaping up exactly how it’s supposed to, exactly how everyone expects it to.  This reality is not outside the realm of possibility.
            Yet, for some reason, that prospect doesn’t quite do it for me.  For kids, the promise of growing up one day is often enough motivation to push forward.  The question I keep asking these days is what happens when you’re already there?  If I figure it all out before I graduate, then what will I have left to live for?

So, in the end, I’d rather not worry too much about what I’ll be doing next year.  I have no plans of peaking at age 22.  While everyone else treats graduation like the be all and end all of our young lives, I’ll keep looking in the same direction I always have, forward.  That first job is undoubtedly important, but so are the second, and the third.  I’m not concerned about making it to the next step; I always have, one way or another.  After all, we’re too young to settle down, and more importantly, we’re too old not to strive for something more.