To be honest…with Julia Yamate Geminiano de Almeida

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To be honest, how am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life? I don’t think it’s fair that at one moment of our lives we’re just expected to make a decision that will dictate the rest of our lives. The weight that every move you make might have bad consequences for your future is too much. That’s probably why college students have so many mental breakdowns. As if all the stress of classes, homework, exams and tuition weren’t enough of a burden, we have to carry the weight of our whole life ahead of us on our shoulders.

I’m a freshman, just 18 years old. How come I already have to make such important choices that will dictate my future? My family says I don’t have the maturity to get a tattoo because I might regret it in a few years, but choosing my career while still a teenager is completely fine. That makes me wonder: where is the line between decisions I am responsible enough to make and the ones I am too young to make? And don’t think that I’m saying that I wanted my parents to make this decision for me. I don’t. I just want more time to think about it.

In my opinion, because of the way our society works, we are bound to make poor decisions that will lead us to do the same miserable work for the rest of our lives, and for someone who’s just starting life and adulthood, that’s really scary. The choices you make always have repercussions, but it seems to me that the ones you make in college might haunt you for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, many people settle for unhappy lives because of the feeling that that’s what they’re supposed to do. And the job market does not make it easy for you to just change your career as you get older. Companies look for older people with experience in the area, not someone who’s just starting.

And the thing that makes all of this worse is how unpredictable the world is. Even if you plan your future to the smallest details, it might disappear in thin air because unexpected things happen and plans change, and you’re left with no plans or any idea of where to go from where you are. And even if your plan goes as expected, what if in the middle of the way you realize that nothing is what you were expecting? Okay, that’s the way life goes, you change your plans as you go, but it’s not that simple when there is the possibility of having a huge turn in your whole life.

You can take me as an example. I’m in a totally different country just to follow my dreams, and when I got to Jewell, I had my five-year plan at the top of my head and knew exactly where I wanted to be after graduation. New information here, a surprise there, and all my plans went down the drain. I’m not even sure what my major will be anymore. I’m not even sure what my dreams are right now. As someone who likes not only to know what’s going on but to be in control, I’m going crazy. I literally have no idea what to do. Fortunately, I have a great support system: family, friends, Jewell’s staff, my teammates. But a lot of students don’t.   

I’m not saying I have the ideal way society should work so that everyone is happy. Actually, I don’t think that’s possible. But I’m pretty sure we can come up with a system that won’t have people crying every day of college or living a miserable life. We should be able to live a little bit before deciding what we want to do with our lives. Experience things, see the world, learn about different cultures, understand how everything works.

Another issue that makes the decision even harder is money, the pressure to decide on a profession based on income and not affinity to the job. How many people do you know who only took the path to the job they have because of the promise of a greater salary? And how many times have you seen a family frown upon a teenager when they say they want to pursue a career in music or art?

I just think that when you’re entering adult life it’s the time for you to discover the world, not have to worry to death about your future and think about your whole life when you need to make a decision. Life is already hard. Why should we make it even harder?

And if you see yourself in this situation, fear not. Everything is going to be alright eventually. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, certainly, there is someone willing to help you. Sometimes, you just need another pair of eyes to find a solution. And as if this couldn’t get more cheesy, just follow your heart.

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