Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

The Future, Stress, and Me

A new year has dawned, and that means we are all another step closer to graduation. Some of my high school friends are getting ready for their exchange programs while others are busy working at their internships. A few are taking well-deserved breaks from their academics, traveling around and picking up new hobbies. Many of my former classmates seem to know exactly what they want to do after leaving college, and I can’t help but admit that seeing them chase after their goals with so much perseverance makes me feel defeated and lost. People say that you’re lucky if you discover your passion at a young age, so maybe I just happen to be surrounded by a group of fortunate individuals; in comparison, I have yet to find something that I can see myself working with for a long time. Why is it that society puts so much pressure on us to create concrete decisions for ourselves at such a young age? 

I had a lot of interests as an elementary schooler, and as a result, my dream job changed on a regular basis. Typical ones included a doctor, author, and chef, but the most memorable one -- my parents still get a kick out of mentioning this at dinner parties -- was lemonade stand owner. I absolutely loved lemonade, and so one day I decided that I’d set up a fancy lemonade stand somewhere in front of my future house. Obviously, I’ve moved on from these ambitions, but sometimes I look back at my childhood and realize that dreaming as a child was easier than it is now. I still have things I enjoy doing -- the problem is that I don’t know if any of those are fulfilling enough for me to dedicate the next couple of years to, and if I actually have the skills to successfully take it up as a proper career. I grew up listening to K-pop, and watching these talented idols (many of whom are more or less my age) live their dreams while receiving love and praise from thousands of fans always makes me confused about my own reality. Though I’m fully aware of the dark side of the entertainment industry, I still occasionally find myself wondering if I will ever come across a calling that I can pursue with as much devotion as famous K-pop stars do.

As the first semester of my junior year looms ahead, the once-far away worries about my future have begun to bother me incessantly. How should I spend my spring break? Can I grant myself the luxury of relaxing, or will a few weeks of rest put me behind everyone else? Stress is an inevitable part of student life, but at times like these, I come to wonder what my peers are thinking, how they are reacting to these obstacles, and what they plan on doing. 

Despite the worries I have about my post-graduation years, I want to let myself take it slow and avoid driving myself towards a path I don’t truly want. It’s like what BTS says in their song “Paradise”: “It’s alright to stop / there’s no need to run without knowing why / it’s alright to not have a dream / as long as you have moments where you feel happiness / it’s alright to stop.” I’ll eventually reach a point in time where I’ll have to make up my mind, but until then, I plan on letting my college life be about studying what I want, learning, and growing.