Recently, many of our lifeatuoft writers have been talking about the future – fears about graduation, about not being sure what do after being “thrust out of the womb” of U of T*, about what career path to pursue. A common theme I’m reading about, and certainly a common comment I get from my friends, is that an individual who knows what they want to do (e.g. career-wise) is lucky.
I disagree. Most people don’t understand how difficult it is to know what you want to do with your life. Sure, I have been able to cater my high school and university courses to prepare for the career I want. I have purposefully taken courses which engage my mind in logical thinking and prep me for legal studies. Certainly, knowing that I want to be a lawyer has saved me a lot of time, anxiety and energy in this process.
On the other hand, knowing what I want to do is incredibly scary, especially when my dream finally starts to become a reality. Sounds contradictory, I know.
All of a sudden, as I get ready to apply to law school, I realize that part of making a dream a reality means there’s a possibility of failing. After catering my academic life toward law school and to being the best lawyer I can be, the possibility of failure is suffocating. What if I don’t make it into law school? With all of my skills (academic and extra-curricular) geared toward law school, I have done the classic mistake – I have put all my eggs in one basket. Either they are going to hatch into baby birds, or explode into a gooey mess. Ouch.
Even if you know your goal, you can still struggle with how you pursue it. I’ve been told on a number of occasions to keep my options open, but I’m not so sure that’s the way to go. On one hand, the effort I put into other options can detract from my one goal. Law school for me is a bit like Michael Phelps aiming for an Olympic gold medal for swimming. If someone told him “if you don’t make it, you can always be a skier,” I’m sure he would have laughed. When you really want something, there are no other options – you will go to the ends of the earth to achieve that one goal.
On the other hand, having options may increase your chances of reaching your goal, or at least provide alternatives which can serve as stepping stones. Rather than swim only in the 100m race, you could swim in the 100m, 200m, and 250m race so that there are three opportunities to win gold.
Many students struggle with this dilemma. What happens if the path you choose doesn’t lead to the final goal? Sometimes, it becomes easier to just dream because then you don’t have to worry about failing to achieve it. The small chance of achieving your dream, however, is worth all the risk.
* my words, not their words 🙂