Senior Column | Focus on what makes you happy

Some people are born knowing what they want to do with their lives. It seems as though they were put on this planet to be a doctor, or an author or an architect. They do not waver; they do not hesitate. They just know. I have been so envious of those people for most of my life. Why can’t I just know? Why can’t I be a math whiz, or a gymnast or a photographer? Why does everyone know but me?

It took me far too long to realize that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Not even close. I often look around and realize that almost everyone around me is just as lost as I am. Only very few are born knowing what they want to be in this world. The rest of us have the opportunity to discover it, and I’ve only realized now, in my senior year, what a lucky opportunity that is. My life isn’t all laid out for me; there is no path I have to follow. I get to explore, go off trail and make mistakes. 

I say we spend these next four years of our lives not desperately searching for a job or a title, but looking for who we really are instead. Looking for what makes us happy. Looking for what makes us want to get out of bed each day. Looking for something that will make us feel proud and accomplished. In search of all that, we will discover what we are meant to do. And sure, a job can certainly make us feel accomplished and happy, but a profession or reputation is not what life is all about. We have to be more than our major or our title. Spend these next four years—or maybe ten years, however long it takes—to find yourself. Discover who you are, what you want to be and where you want to go.

Life is a big messy jumble of memories, mistakes and accomplishments. We all have fears: fears that we might fail, fears that we might fall flat on our face and never recover. We all fear making mistakes, that the one wrong decision or wrong turn which will be too irreparable to fix. We used the wrong word in an essay. We chose the wrong option on a multiple choice test. Got the wrong pair of shoes, shattered the phone on the concrete. When will we realize that these little mistakes are not the end of the world? Yes, you got a bad grade on a test. It can be fixed. Yes, you broke your ankle. It will heal. I promise, these mistakes are never as bad as they seem to be in the moment. 

So please, in the short time we have here on earth, make as many mistakes as you want. Learn from them. Do whatever it takes to discover who you are. Discover what’s important to you. Nothing is too broken to be fixed. Plans can change, and that is perfectly okay. You may have majored in biomedical engineering and realized you no longer want to be a biomedical engineer. There are plenty of careers and lifestyles from which you can choose. It is okay to change your mind, as long as it makes you happy. I wish you all the best of luck on your journey these next four years, and don’t be ashamed if you trip and stumble or don’t know exactly what you want to do with your life right this instant. Appreciate the little moments and do whatever you can to make yourself the happiest you can be.