There are a lot of people who are going to influence you regarding how you spend your time, what your priorities are and what you stand for. As college students, mentors ranging from parents, professors and advisors to accomplished workers, etc., can be an extremely positive force in your life. However, whatever you end up doing should be traced back to one’s own desire to do it.
Growing up, we toe the line between autonomy/independence and reliance, both financial and psychological, on those who can give us guidance through the wilderness of early adulthood. Valuing others’ opinions and learning from their experiences allows us to gain advice and insight, but the equally beautiful and terrifying aspect of adulthood is carving one’s own path.
Hard questions must be asked when it comes to what we really want to do with our lives and by which principles. Have we played sports, pursued a specific degree, supported one political party or followed a certain ideology or religion our whole lives because of what our parents passed down to us, or have we critically examined our own beliefs and identities?
No one enjoys enduring this existential questioning of every thought or conviction one has ever had, but a big part of life is asking questions. Asking questions that range in scope from the world to the universe to one’s own purpose and significance leads us to the path of legitimate self-discovery and allows us to embrace our own idiosyncrasies.
Although questioning things can be terrifying and uncomfortable, it will in turn make us less afraid when facing the complex issues of the world. If we can become more open to questioning ourselves and what lies beyond, we can embrace these problems as part of life instead of turning our backs to them. Think about prejudice – it is a result of ignorance, many times willfully due to a lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown.
This leaves us with the question of where to go from here as young adults heading towards the real world and all of its beautiful dysfunction. We are what we choose to be, but we limit that when we undervalue ourselves. It is all a balancing act when weighing in others’ valued opinions with your own, but it’s important to let yourself have the final say.
At the end of the day, you are the person living your life. As much as other people around you care about your future and what you stand for, if there is any milestone towards true adulthood, it’s the ability to honor what those important to you have to say while doing what you feel is right based on your intuition and self-awareness.
You have more knowledge of who you are, what you stand for and what passion drives you more than anyone else. It would be against your best interest to do things for the sake of others’ expectations and to believe in anything without questioning it.
We figure out new things by questioning the world outwardly and ourselves internally. Only through critical thought can we really unlock who we are, who we’re meant to be and how we truly understand the world.