Thursday, October 22, 2009


Parc Montsouris, across from my building

I'm 21. After years of looking forward to the day I would finally become an independent adult (18 did not count- I still felt like an awkward teenager), I'm at an age that, in American culture, is the embodiment of fearlessness, confidence, and carefree optimism. 

The equation is engraved in my head after countless lectures by parents, teachers, and all educational institutions I've attended, and it is as follows:  

I'm young.

I'm educated. 

I have a solid moral foundation 

I'm unattached by responsibility. 

So naturally, I have the world at my fingertips. 

They make it sound so easy. No one mentions the oppressive, almost suffocating sense of success that you are expected to reach (although I might also set this up for myself). Failing is not an option. Amidst all my planning- for the GREs, grad school, careers options I could consider- it is easy to do and almost dangerous to stop, because the moment I pause to analyze what I'm doing, it's scary. 

I realize that my future is a blank slate, and I love it. Its the great thing about being 21. There is no set path, no ruts. But it's mapping out my future and pinpointing what I need to do in order to get there that makes me anxious. Entering college, my goal was simple: decide on a major, and graduate, then its happily ever after. Four years later, life has gotten far more complicated- I'm essentially creating a rough blueprint of my professional goals to follow. Ideally, I won't have to readjust and all will go smoothly according to plan, but I'm not stupid. Life just does not work out that way. And the possibility- no, fact - that it won't work out the way I picture is intimidating.    

I wonder how I'll answer these questions when I'm 30? 40? 60?

Did I take advantage of all the opportunities that were out there?

Am I where I always imagined myself to be, or at least going towards achieving those goals? 

What in life is the most meaningful to me? 

How do I define myself at this point in my life? My work? My family? 

How can I make my life more fulfilling? 

What alternate lifestyles could I be living? For example, working as a photojournalist for National Geographic in the Amazon. Or being a pastry chef in Paris. And would I sacrifice what I have now to do it? 

And I'm sincerely wondering,  
Are you living your life the way you'd imagined? 


Post a Comment