"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Do you remember the ever evolving answers that you gave? Was it the super cool uniforms that attracted you? Or were you inspired by the really nice doctor that made you feel all better?
Many of us spend a good portion of our lives caught up in the rat race, seeking comfort in the fancy dinners and cushy lifestyles. There's nothing nothing wrong with that - but is that what we truly want or is that something that we've been conditioned to subscribe to?
Before even starting work for the first time, many students experience having to put their happiness on hold, in order to gain admission to the "best" school.
Interestingly, a recent article on NY Times reported that a course on Psychology and the Good Life & happiness became Yale University's most popular class ever. Prof Santos speculated that Yale students are interested in the class because, in high school, they had to deprioritise their happiness to gain admission to the school, adopting harmful life habits that have led to what she called "the mental health crises we're seeing at places like Yale".
As such, we decided to give everyone who has been through it, or who is going through it right now, a voice.
Our next account is by a 20 year old millennial, trying to find her place in this world on her own terms. Will you identify with her story?
Hi, my name is Claudia, I’m a sophomore at the Goizueta Business School and I’m concentrating in marketing. I was looking at your company’s website a few days ago, and I noticed that you have a robust internship program. Could you please tell me more about it?”
“Yeah! Our internship program is about 10 weeks long, and our office is located in New York City…”
“Unfortunately, we don’t offer internships for sophomores, but we would love to have you apply next year!”
After what felt like hours of feigned smiles and interest, systematically handing out my resume and listening to company representatives describe their internship programs, job positions and company achievements, I headed home with a burning question in mind: what am I going to do after college?
Stripping out of my shackling heels and suit into my free-flowing pyjamas, I sat on my bed and looked at the pile of company flyers I was swamped with. What am I supposed to do with them? Do the companies even look at my resume? As an international student, I was repeatedly told to attend the career fair as networking events were crucial to secure a job in America after graduation.
"NETWORK WITH PEOPLE, so that you can get a job!" Yadi-yadi-ya.
It feels as if I’m part of an assembly of mass produced robots about to be sent out to the market for consumers to purchase. To be judged by others who know nothing of us except what is on our resume (which is essentially a piece of paper). The job search process can be dehumanising; when people become overly obsessed with looking for a great position with a great salary, at a great company, to the extent that it becomes all they are driven by.
But I don’t want to be one of those robots. What would life become if that was all we cared about? As I imagine myself sitting in an office 40 hours a week, attending meetings and making product pitches for the following 40 years, I feel increasingly uneasy.
10 year-old me would reply matter of factly that I want to work with animals. 20 year old me wants to document wild creatures to show the world why we must protect our planet. And don't forget about my aspirations of protecting and empowering girls & women to fight for the treatment we deserve, the happiness that we all seek.
I am only 20 years old. I don’t know where life will take me. But I do know that I should take charge of my own destiny, and I will not allow myself to be only defined by my resume. I am so much more.
What we want can remain the same, or change over time. And as we continue to set higher and higher goals for ourselves, whether it is in high school, college, graduate school or work, we must not forget the things that truly lights the fire in our hearts: our true passions.
Whether you are a student, just starting out on your career, or have been working for half your life, it is never too late to think about what you want! It is also perfectly normal to not know.
For a start, identify your interests and talents, and cultivate them. Taking action instead of remaining exactly where you are, is the first step to discovering what matters the most to you.
So what is it that you really want? What is the burning desire in your heart? What purpose are you seeking? And what will you find?
Feedback, questions, collaborations? Please drop a note to [email protected]