To My 18 Year Old Self
If you’re anything like I was at 18, you had this ten-year plan for yourself. My plan was to major in Global Studies and approach it like International Relations, involve myself in local and national politics, and eventually go to law school and become a criminal lawyer. I’d suggest not doing what I did because most likely, the plan isn’t going to work out. In my case, it didn’t work out for me.
The reason why it didn’t work out is because after I graduated, I actually took the time to stop and think. I thought about my strengths, my weaknesses, and what I wanted to do with my life. The thought of going to law school for three years didn’t make sense anymore. The reason why I wanted to go to law school was really for the prestige that came with a JD. I didn’t want to spend three years of my life reading and studying law to end up in investigation or litigation. Rather, I had the urge to do: I needed to work, lead, influence others, make change in an organization...and that’s what I did.
I know you’re young and just starting your college career. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you to decide what you want to do with it. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into this ten-year plan like I did. Instead, take the time early in your college career to stop and think about what you’re doing, ask questions about why you’re doing it, and find what purpose it brings you in life. Everything you do, whatever it is (studying, going out, eating pizza at 2AM) should have a reason behind it and purpose.
Like all animals, humans are innately curious beings meaning they tend to ask questions about many things. In today’s day-in-age, we tend to Google search things we’re curious about. Similar to what you do in your daily life, do the same in your college career: ask questions about the readings you’ve been given, figure out the “why” behind your assignments, and determine what value your work will provide you.
In asking these questions, you’re not only beginning to understand the whys behind what you’re doing, you’re using your head and thinking, which in my opinion, holds a lot of value. Wouldn’t you think so too? I like to use my brain and increase my knowledge through thinking. Through self-reflection, you’re not subjecting yourself to becoming the academic robot that you’ve been programmed to become since kindergarten. Instead, you’re challenging what’s been given to you, and like I said before, you’re finding reason and purpose behind everything you do.
By now, you can probably understand that if I were to redo college, I’d definitely approach it differently than I did. At such a young age, I would’ve never started out with a set plan of what I wanted to do after graduation. I would’ve taken my four years to ask as many questions as possible and learned through application versus mostly memorizing and regurgitating information. I wouldn’t have fallen victim to learning solely in the classroom and would’ve taken the content I learned with me and applied it in my everyday life.
I’m writing this post because I want you to know what I didn’t know upon entering college. I want you to be equipped to succeed and set expectations accordingly. You can’t rely solely on the traditional college classroom. It isn’t to set you up for success in the real world - get that thought out of your head. Only you can set yourself up for success, and that’s why I encourage you to do the following as you enter what will be the next four years of your life: take time to think and ask questions, learn by doing, and develop the skills that you’ll actually need in the workforce.