Recently, during a conversation about college, a friend of mine informed me that she wanted to become a dentist. I calmly nodded and continued to listen as my mind tried to wrap itself around what she had just revealed to me. She is sixteen years old, intelligent, and has every opportunity she could ever desire made available to her. As a senior in high school, soon leaving for college, I have never really been able to narrow down my subjects of interest or to direct my academic attentions toward a certain major or career-track. I have just always known that what I want to do with the rest of my life is exactly that – what I really WANT to do. I mean no disrespect to dentists, they perform a noble duty and are always in high demand, but does a 16 year old girl really WANT to be a dentist; to clean strangers’ mouths for the rest of her life? Or is she just afraid of the consequences if she strays from the straight and narrow path that she has already mapped out for the rest of her life? I believe in doing what you love, living to maximize your happiness in the present, and letting the future bloom rather than worrying about what it may hold.
The young lady in my story suffered from a fear of the future and a submission to the expectations and norms of a competitive society. She is not alone; in fact, she is a member of the vast majority. She was prepared to sacrifice her dreams, and what she knew in her heart would make her the happiest person, for safety and security in her future years. Now maybe this is so-called ‘success’. However, success is a word that is defined by each individual. When I am 80 years old I don’t want to look back and see my past full of opportunities and dreams that have been bypassed in order to take the safe route. A nice desk-job at a cubicle and a suburban home with a white picket fence do not suffice. This is life; it’s not a dress-rehearsal. I want to look back on my life and see that my journey was filled with the peaks and valleys of adventure and the scars and successes of every opportunity I seized. I want to see that I followed my heart and my mind, and not the stifling standards that some other power set before me. I know that if I live this way then I will be exactly where I want to be at every juncture in life. This is true success. We all have the same ultimate fate; the journey, the experience, is what separates us.
I want to live life fulfilling every desire at every moment rather than convincing myself that what I am doing is worth the sacrifice. On my expedition through life so far I have experienced enough to know that doing what you love is always the best route to follow. Where I will be, and what I will be doing 20 years from now I don’t know; I don’t want to know. I do know that I’ll be doing what I love, whatever the circumstances; and I’m pretty sure I won’t be cleaning somebody else’s teeth.
This I believe.