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A struggle I have the privilege to endure: passion or practicality? 

Do I choose my passion, risk it all, and still maybe fail? Or do I choose the secure route, the “right” route?

The part of me that watched my dad work tireless hours, unable to see his family and enjoy the money he worked so hard for, makes me want to choose practicality, to make him proud. I will live the life that he dreamed of having. Being my own boss, making enough money in order to not let money control me. Finding a job that leaves me a little empty inside, but at least there is security. Money is power. 

But the dreamer in me that wrote stories as a child and made potions in her room wants to be a fiction writer. The child in me wants to travel the world and document her travels. She wants to learn languages and grow as a human being. She wants to go to journalism school and maybe go broke. 

But the practical side of me knows that when the creativity runs dry and the loans pile on, I will be stuck with nothing. It’s been years since I picked up a pen and wrote creatively, after I chose to pick up a physics textbook and study instead. I chose to go to a good college rather than follow my passions. Will I make the same choice again?

Who says that you have to like your job? As a citizen, a part of this society, it is your job to contribute, to follow the rules and not ask questions. You don’t get to go your own path. 

But the dreamer in me thinks of the ways my stories could impact others. I could share with others my experiences traveling around the world.

But the practical side of me reminds me that I have to fund those travels. And that I like having a warm bed to go home to every night. 

So I decide to settle. The warm bed and the security is more important. The security will bring me a steady income, a family, and, eventually, wonderful grandchildren who will giggle with joy. It will give me a roof over my head and bi-yearly vacations to Florida. But I will still always wonder what would’ve happened if I became a writer. 

So I decide to dream. I will try and try for years to publish my next big novel. After four years post bac, I will finally land a book deal. It does okay. It pays my rent. I have to pick up another job to pay off my loans. But I am fulfilled creatively. I followed my passion. I am struggling and not sure if I made the right choice. I always wonder what it would’ve been like had I decided to go into consulting. 

Olivia Wang

Columbia Barnard '24

Olivia is a Sophomore at Barnard College studying Computer Science. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and learning new languages.
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