When college begins, it feels as if you have all the time in the world ahead of you. Life seems to stand still for the small period of time that you’re an underclassman. Freshman and sophomore years are a blur, and by the time junior year rolls around, the nervousness starts to set in. There are expectations placed upon you that you at least have an inkling of where your life is headed. But what if you don’t know? What if the future still seems like some foreign, far-off concept?
Managing your own expectations is a crucial element of life. Everybody sets their own standards, some higher than others, and they drive and motivate you to accomplish your goals. Many people set goals for the future, and they feel as if their life is just some sort of one way track towards those goals. But life happens, things change, and often motivations change along with it. If you don’t allow your aspirations to adapt to your own circumstances, the future will always seem like some mystical and unreachable phenomenon.
I can’t say that I’ve had any sort of meaningful life experience that opened my eyes to the idea of the inevitability of change, but I can say that I have realized that adaptation is an important aspect of preparing yourself to enter the “real world”. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. You might not get that job you’ve been eyeing, or you might falter in an important interview. But understanding that this is only a small part of the big picture and that you can still succeed is important. One failure doesn’t automatically lead to another. It should drive you to work harder and look more closely at what you can do instead, or what you can do to remedy potential mistakes.
A year ago, I was planning to apply for medical school come junior year. Now, I’m applying for internships in the advertising industry, and I’m just as happy, if not more so, for the change. A lot of people think that “living for now” is the answer, but the reality is that life is a delicate balance of learning from the past, living in the present, and preparing for the future.
Trevor Stoimenoff is from Grand Ledge, Michigan. He currently attends Northwestern University, and is majoring in Economics with a minor in Psychology.