Photo by Elissa Gray
At 10 years old, they sit us down and they ask us, “Who do you want to be?”
They are only curious, simply kidding and not taking our answers very seriously. I know this, so I laugh, shake my head and mumble “teacher” or “veterinarian.”
I do not know many options, so I pick the ones I can remember.
Five years later, they ask the same thing, and I am still so young, naive and inexperienced. I have gone through years and years of school and all I really know are equations and textbooks and essays. I think about how my dad always told me that you can never go wrong with math and science, and how I’ve dedicated my time to someone else’s dream, trudging through calculus and advanced physics, hoping for some semblance of enlightenment. But whenever the question of my future approaches, my brain freezes and no truthful answer comes to mind. I have not lived, not yet, and still they ask me about who I want to be as if they believe I have.
It is now nearing the beginning of my sophomore year at Northwestern, and I finally made decisions for myself. Politics and law, writing and investigating – I realized that formulas and lab reports are not my future.
I understand now how to figure out what I want. Still, many expect me to know, to be sure, to see clearly the path ahead of me and identify every step along the way that will carry me to the end. This dilemma was only amplified in high school, when everyone seemed to swarm like bees, demanding definitive answers and clear goals. Back then, I sat back and I asked, how could I possibly be so sure, when the best was still yet to come? College is a time for discovering and understanding and deciding, and so any choice made before I have stepped out of the constraints of the one city, the one household, the one world I have existed in for 18 years would simply be wrong, so incredibly wrong.
Now that I’ve skimmed the surface of my newfound university independence, I acknowledge that my inability to be sure in my future was never a fault – it was an asset, composed of curiosity and flexibility. Therefore, in the three years I have left, I will continue to not only look for questions, but for answers, from myself and from others; answers that will guide me into a destiny much grander than I can see right now, as I am still small and unknowing, still lost, but soon to be found.