How about that infamous “what do you what to do when you grow up” question? We’re somehow supposed to have a well thought-out, pre-planned, and articulate answer. When your grandparents, your friend’s parents, or that family member you only see at Thanksgiving, asks you the question, you’re expected to have that answer memorized—and it better be a good one.
“I don’t know” sounds like you don’t have a future, and a super-specific answer is frequently (and unfortunately) interpreted as arrogant and unrealistic. Where is the happy medium? Why do we feel this way?
In high school, when people begin to ask the “what do you want to do” question, my answer was easy—college. “I want to go to UGA and study broadcast journalism.” A common response I’d get was, “Oh, that’s great! UGA is a hard school to get into, especially the broadcast journalism department.”
Yes, I know that 75% of those who apply to UGA as freshman don’t get in. I know that hundreds of students apply to the broadcast journalism department and only 30-something get accepted each semester. I know the “job market is bad and it will be tough to get a job right out of school.”
I was in the car with my soccer teammates. We were on the way to a game my senior year, when I got an e-mail from the University of Georgia. “Congratulations” was the first word in the e-mail.
I couldn’t put into words the feeling I encountered when I saw that e-mail. I had made it into the school of my dreams.
From a young age, I wanted to be on T.V. I wanted to be a sports reporter. After all, I had played almost every sport imaginable, and finally figured out which sports I was best at (and worst at!). Although I enjoyed playing sports, I thought it would be incredible to be on the sidelines reporting.
When I interned as a news reporter at NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga last summer, things changed a little. Although I had the time of my life, I let the idea of starting my career somewhere other than a news station become an option. This didn’t sit well with everybody.
Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes these comments are preceded by “Yay! Glad you got a job! So I guess all the news stuff was kind of a waste then?” They don’t understand.
This lack of understanding can damage relationships. I have friends who are nurses, Atlanta Falcons reporters, TV producers, graduate students at prestigious schools, and marketers for big companies.
I also have friends who are still in school or working at a restaurant until they land their first job. Almost all of them say they feel pressure from others; what they’re doing isn’t good enough.
One of my most important jobs as a friend is to be encouraging and happy.
I witness examples like this far too frequently. There’s a difference between a simple “congrats,” and genuinely expressing happiness to someone. A friend gets engaged, married, a great job… and some people can’t be happy for them. It’s almost like being happy for someone else is physically painful.
Surprisingly, Downers are THERE the moment HappyChaps get fired or dumped. They love supporting their friend when they’re upset, but they can’t seem to do the same thing when HappyChaps are happy.
If we spend life constantly comparing ourselves to others, rather than celebrating where we are, where our friends are in this moment, we’ll waste valuable time.
If you had asked me when I was eight where I’d be as I approach my 23rd birthday, I would have said something outrageous (it’s funny how you envision your twenties when you’re eight).
I’m somewhere else, but I’m happy—and I wouldn’t change a thing.