Vulnerability now ensures happiness later

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By Matt Pasquini

What do you want to be when you grow up?” was the question we were asked as kids. In college, it progressed into: “What are you majoring in?” Next comes, “What do you want to do with that?”

In essence, it’s the same question we were all asked in our younger years, and it has come back to haunt us. Being forced to figure out now what you want to do when you grow up is just as daunting as being asked that same question as a young child. 

The simple response, “I don’t know,” has been stigmatized in various ways — and it shouldn’t be. This response often provokes a sense of bewilderment from those who believe they need to have everything figured out by the time they apply to college, and, truth is, they don’t.

I grew up always hearing my mother say, “If you find a career you truly love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

The journey of career exploration is a long one and should not be rushed. Making yourself vulnerable is a way to guarantee never having to work a day in your life.

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    By hanging out with a new group of friends, people become vulnerable to rejection or might even find out they click with a certain group better than their current circle of friends.

    The same goes for getting involved with new registered student organizations or taking classes outside of your major — by doing so, you make yourself vulnerable to the idea that there’s an activity or subject you enjoy more than the one you’re currently involved with.

    College is a unique time when students can try new things and open themselves up to the outside world. They make themselves vulnerable, and they become subject to the unknown consequences of doing so.

    It can be a terrifying experience, especially if you’re a student like me who thought he knew what he wanted to do from the first day of college. But it’s an experience worth going through, especially if it results in the discovery of a passion you never thought you had.

    From the beginning of my college career, I always thought I wanted to pursue a career in politics (and no, I didn’t want to be a politician — just someone behind the scenes).

    I’ve always made clear my obsession with being up to date with the news. Being aware of the news helps me identify the problems we face as a society, and my close following of politics allows me to see the issues at hand as well as the means of fixing them.

    I felt that every opportunity I took advantage of brought me that much closer to finding an “in,” and I was simply doing the things I was because I thought they’d make for a strong resume for someone who wanted to pursue a career in politics. But when I first started working as a resident advisor for University Housing at the beginning of my sophomore year, I fell in love with the job. I would briefly entertain the idea of entering a career in student affairs but immediately shut it out — I wanted to be in politics.

    This past summer, I took on another student affairs job with the admissions office and also worked on a political campaign. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and I now realize that I had always known my inclination toward working in student affairs (admissions, housing, other nonacademics). I realized through my experiences this summer that my inclination toward working in student affairs was stronger than my previous inclination toward working in politics.

    When I moved back in the residence halls at the start of this year and began my second year of being a resident advisor, it all came together. I realized that I shouldn’t spend my time working in a field that I thought might impress people, but rather a field that I found a true sense of satisfaction with.

    Oftentimes, we find ourselves pursuing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. 

    Concerning career choices, we may choose one over the other because it can impress others in conversation or because it’s a profitable industry where money can be made.

    We fear the fake response of, “Wow, that sounds really cool,” or the head tilt response that is a result of the obscureness of your desired profession.

    If anything, I’ve just learned to embrace it. The feeling of pursuing your passions is much greater and more honorable than the feeling you get compromising them just to impress others — I learned from experience. Why work unnecessarily hard for something your gut is fighting against when you can find something you love and never have to work a day in your life? 

    I’m not going to, and you shouldn’t either.

    Matt is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].