Where are we going in life?
High school is hard. Starting uni is hard. Being a student and working is hard. Some people can do it. Some people can barely juggle it. Some of us know exactly what we want to do and where we want to go in our careers and in life. But a lot of us have no idea and are only at uni because it was “better than doing nothing”, or because our parents have certain expectations of us.
Or maybe because we thought we had an idea but when we got there, we realised that’s not what we wanted. Some of us had the right idea by taking a gap year to work and/or travel and live life while we’re still young and have no responsibilities or worries and stress. Not to mention time to figure out not only who we are, but what we truly want in life without the pressure of having to go headfirst into that thing called adult life.
But I guess you could say yeah, we’re all pretty much in the same boat. Whether you know exactly what you want, you’re driven, motivated to make it happen and know exactly what to do to make it happen, or you have little to no idea about what you want and are anxiously trying to figure it out as you go along, or you’re taking those precious months, or a year or years of sweet freedom to figure yourself out, to be honest, no matter where we all are in life and no matter what age we are, we are all still going to go through it, and we will all struggle immensely, at uni and even outside. Things can happen in life that halts our own for a time, like family matters, loss, love, other plans, physical and mental health and more. We all change and grow every single day and it really is okay to struggle and change your mind about where your life is heading, and everyone has their own time, their own purpose and their own destiny to follow and fulfill.
From the beginning of our lives, expectations are already in place for us. Our parents want us to be happy and healthy and perfect, and as we begin to crawl, walk and talk, and write and draw and learn, our parents, and other people, find little things in our behaviour even as babies, that determine their hopes or expectations of us. I’ve heard many people say to the parents of children that love to draw, or dance or are particularly fast at learning, “maybe they’ll be an artist,” or “they could be a dancer,” or “they are going to be really smart when they grow up, you should push them with that, they could be a doctor.” Something along those lines. Some parents even map at their child’s entire future, and of course you’d want the best for your child and for them to succeed and be able to afford life. When we’re little, our imagination could run wild and our innocent little minds could make up the most impossible things, and we can dream up anything we want. When people begin to ask us the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” it’s easy to answer. Many of us wanted to be doctors, astronauts, superheroes, firefighters, a spy or even a princess. As we start growing up, the question comes up again at those family events and some of us would answer with certainty, and some of us would answer with an “I don’t know yet.” In high school, the pressure comes. At 15 years old we’re meant to at least have a little idea of what we want to be. Why couldn’t we just be kids?
When I was little, I remember wanting to be a vet or a marine biologist because I loved animals so much. At one point growing up I wanted to be an astronomer, because I was so fascinated with stars and space and the great unknown. Which I still love and find an interest in but now most of it scares the hell out of me to think that there's things out there that are bigger than Earth and the sun and the planets we know, and that we’re literally just floating in this dark space and space is endless and maybe there are others out there like or NOT like us!! Anyway…I once also wanted to be a archaeologist because I loved the idea of digging up bones and travelling the world and exploring caves and finding historical artifacts from Egypt and dinosaurs and stuff. Then I realised science was not my strong point at school, no matter what I did. In year 10 I wanted to be a speech pathologist and that was the first time I was actually serious about my future and thought it would be a good thing to help people who need it. Then I realised I loved music and singing as well and thought, how can I put those two together? I then found out about music therapy and did that for my research project and realised that I definitely wanted that to be my career. So, I applied to do music at the Conservatorium at Adelaide uni.
Applying to universities was scary. I don’t know whether I was simply scared of not getting in or if I was more scared of actually having to go. Deep in my heart, I knew I didn’t know what I wanted. I was right. My high school didn’t have the best music program in the world… there were literally five of us in the class throughout year 11 and 12 and I was the only one from my grade…but the uni encouraged those who didn’t particularly know much and as long as you were talented, you’d get into the Conservatorium. And I did. I was studying Jazz and I had no idea what was happening. Yeah, I could sing but I struggled badly with theory. So, three weeks later I changed to popular music and creative technologies. This was better because it was more creative, we got to write our own songs and sing in a band, and theory was a lot simpler. It was great and I made great friends and I felt a lot better. However, after a while I began to feel like that wasn’t me. I was stressed all the time, I was going through a breakup, I was starting to hate singing and music because it was becoming something else rather than something I loved. I realised I didn’t want to hate music. Music was my entire life from birth, I was born to sing and play music and my dad was a musician, I couldn’t live without it. I didn’t quit because it was difficult, I quit because I wasn’t happy and I didn’t want something I once loved to become a chore, or a burden.
So, I changed my degree to a Bachelor of Arts, even though I was clueless as to what I wanted to do I was encouraged to keep going at uni. So, I took up psychology, creative writing, ancient history and continued popular music without the theory. Perks of doing Bachelor of Arts, you can literally choose anything. I started loving writing and thought maybe I could be a writer. My first year ended, thank god. Second year I chose more creative writing, marketing, and some media and film subjects. I did a winter school subject that year, scriptwriting. I loved it so much. It was different to writing fiction, short stories and eventual novels, it was more visual. And after doing that and some media subjects, I realised I actually love film. Everyone does, but I realised I remembered always wanting to know what goes on behind the scenes and watching the bonus features of every movie I saw, even as a kid. Some may say it ruins the movie magic but that IS the magic. Flash forward to now, two years later still with doubts and still with worries about my future, I still know that film and media is something I want to be a part of and something I’m working towards. It’s been hard to find the motivation but that’s the good thing about uni is that you can take your time. And maybe it won’t be the thing I end up doing, maybe I will change my mind, I’ll probably be at uni forever.
But the point I’m trying to make in all this is that it is okay to not know or to change your mind, even as you get older and older. It’s okay to take your time, it’s okay to fail classes and start again because that’s life and its hard but everyone has their purpose in life. Whether its to save lives, or make music or discover things, or serve, or change the world, every single job has its purpose. It could be as simple as an act of kindness or touching someone’s heart without even realising it. Everyone has their time when it happens and who we are and what we are meant for is yet to be discovered. But the most important thing to remember above all this is to live, enjoy life, enjoy the world, and be a good person.
Take these words from Alan Watts:
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”Alan Watts
And go live. Bye!