Up in the air

o, what kind of career are you thinking of pursuing?” asks my neighbor.

This question is the second most popular question I and every other junior are probably asked this year. Second only to the ever-popular “Where do you want to go to college?”

And so, I smile politely and recite my pre-designated line, “Oh, I’m really not sure yet, there’s just so much I’m interested in!”

My neighbor nods and smiles understandingly but hides her surprise in finding that I don’t have a 10-year plan.

Even in our preschool years, we are coached by our teachers to have some preconceived notion of what we would like to be when we grow up, a ready answer for any adult who asks. However, is it so wrong not to have some idea of what you want to do?

Some college students graduate not knowing what they want to do with their lives and are given grief for it, but different paths unfold in different ways, and I firmly believe that society needs to give the undecided some leeway, some time to think before committing to a profession for the rest of your life.

“Why don’t you look into law?” my father suggests.

“Or how about you go into health care?” my mother pipes in. My father takes his suggestion back and sides with my mother.

“You can give us a discount,” he says.

Sometimes, when procrastinating for a particularly irksome test, I think of what life would be like if I were to just quit school and go live my life as a rancher under that big Texas sky that everyone talks about, or become a forest ranger in Yosemite.

But the truth is, no one should ever feel afraid to do or study what they love because if you have a passion for something, chances are you can figure out a way to either incorporate it into a job or create your own job from what you love. Just last Friday, Carol Davis, an award-winning poet, came to talk to sophomore English classes about writing poetry and some of the thought process she goes through when writing her own poetry. Unbeknownst to her, however, she imparted some wisdom to me that I’ll never forget.

When living in Russia, people would ask her what she did for a living, and she would reply, “Well, I’m a poet.” And that was accepted. But once she moved back to the United States, she would give the same response, except here, the inquirer would respond, “No, seriously, what’s your real job?”

And with the price of a college education these days, it’s sensible to think twice before jumping into that eight-year plan for becoming a doctor. And that’s without a specialty.

And so, in the end, I’ve decided that it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life; there’s time. And the only thing you really have to be ready to put up with are all those people who want know your plan.

After getting over her original shock, my neighbor turns back to me and asks, “So, where do you want to go to college?”