From the second I began my college career, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had a very specific goal, and I took the necessary steps in the direction that was going to lead me to achieving it. However, somewhere along the way, I started to think to myself about why I felt so compelled to stick to my strict plans. Nothing I was doing made me happy anymore.
I feel as though I have always been taught to make a plan and stick to it. I began to think that the only way to be considered successful was to stick to your plan and achieve the goals you set for yourself. Graduate from high school, get into college, choose your major, get perfect grades, get into law school. I have done everything in my power to make myself as perfect a candidate as I could in hopes to get accepted to the law schools I’ve been seeking out since I was in high school. My resume will tell you that I have three majors, a minor, and am pursuing a Paralegal Certificate. It will also tell you that I’ve worked at two law firms, interned at the Connecticut Superior Court and the Connecticut State Capitol, that I’ve held two executive board positions in my sorority, and have volunteered at countless places. But what I’ve come to realize is that my resume is not a reflection of me. My resume doesn’t tell you anything about me at all, really, it just tells you that I know how to stick to my plan – a plan that I don’t even know if I am content with pursuing. My work experience doesn’t define me as a person, yet that’s what I’ve been using as the foundation of who I am for so long. Now I’m finally beginning to think – why?
Whenever anyone asked me why I wanted to get my Juris Doctor, I was never able to give them a real answer besides “it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.” Some people would ask me why I always wanted to do it, and I still have yet to find the appropriate response. The attorneys I’ve worked for have all tried to talk me out of it. The lobbyists I’ve worked for have told me that the degree is pointless. For a while, I stood my ground, and confidently told them that it was my goal to earn my law degree and that I was going to accomplish it. However, my last semester of my senior year has made me question whether I’m doing it because I want to, or if I’m simply doing it to prove a point (to myself, and to everyone else).
This past January, I began interning at a lobbying firm. The internship fell into my lap unexpectedly, when I went to my advisor to ask a scheduling question and she responded with “hey, do you want an internship?” I was skeptical at first because I had never thought about lobbying as something that I would want to do, but I ended up absolutely loving it. Earlier today, I was speaking with one of my first friends I made in college. He is also a Political Science major, and I remember him telling me the first day we met that he was determined to be a lobbyist. I had rolled my eyes, and said that I never wanted to actually do anything with politics. I was going to law school, obviously.
But am I? Maybe I want to be a lobbyist. Maybe I want to be a Senator. Maybe I want to be the person who detects fake designer bags for the New York Police Department like I saw on that episode of SVU a few weeks ago. Maybe I’ll say screw it to my degrees altogether and become a florist. Or maybe I will go to law school. Does it even matter?
No. It doesn’t. I have spent
so much too much time worrying about whether or not I’ll be “successful” that I completely lost focus of what actually makes me happy. We are constantly told throughout our childhood that we shouldn’t be quitters. That phrase is essentially encouraging us to continue to do things that we don’t like simply for the sake of not being labeled a “quitter.” Well, let me tell you, I will walk around with that word tattooed on my forehead if it means that I’m not forced to do the things that I do not want to do.
I am extremely proud of all of the work I have put towards that goal, and I feel as though I accomplished much more than I ever thought I would; but I used all of my time and energy trying to reach that one goal that I convinced myself was the only thing in the cards for me. I didn’t allow myself to do anything else. If it didn’t get me to the place I thought I had to be, then I didn’t have time for it – and I’m done with that closed-minded attitude.
I am positive that I’m not the only one that’s spent their time going through the motions, doing something I’m not passionate about, for the sole purpose of sticking to my plan. Well, plans change. People change. You have no obligation to be the same person you were ten minutes ago. You don’t owe anything to anyone except yourself – and once you decide that you want to do something different, your opinion is the only one that matters. This is something that has taken me a very long time to learn. But I’ve already told everyone I’m going to law school. Everyone already knows I’m supposed to have my Paralegal Certificate by May. You know what? Screw those Saturday classes. I don’t have anyone to please but myself, and I don’t want to do it anymore.
I don’t know what my plan will be.
There, I said it. Sophomore year me would be so horrified. I used to think it was embarrassing to not have your shit together – to not have a plan. Honestly, I never want to hear the word “plan” again. And that’s okay! If you already have your career lined up for you, that’s awesome, and I’m happy for you. I’ll figure mine out, with the help of some faith and some patience. I know that I am capable of achieving some really, really great things – and I don’t have to continue on such a narrow path anymore.