At the tender age of 23, I have now reached the end of my school/university orientated life that was filled with essays, books, exams and the soul crushing all-nighters. It feels as if I am in my car, right by the STOP sign at a set of crossroads. Where do I go from here? Am I making the right choice? Where will I end up? Millions and millions of nagging questions going round and round in my head like a ferris wheel on crack cocaine.
My first mistake was choosing the wrong degree, but I can’t blame myself too harshly as I find it very hard to believe that every 19 year old knows bang on what they want to study, and then magically come out with a job relating partly to that degree choice. I was good at English; I used to write mini ‘novels’ when I was younger and always had my nose in a book and was even lulled to sleep due to the soothing sound of Stephen Fry narrating Harry Potter books. But unfortunately, as I grew older and began to understand that the world wasn’t the happy shiny place I had seen through my young eyes. Instead I began to learn about the politics of the world and the issues of terrorism. 9/11 in particular caught my interest; I could only think one question as I watched those planes crash into the crumbling world trade centers. Instead of jumping onto the ‘all Muslim’s are terrorists’ Western bandwagon, all I asked is: “but why would these people do such a terrible thing? What angered them so greatly to cause them to react in such a horrifically violent way?” There are always two sides to the story after all. From that day forward I was fascinated by Islam, Jihad and every aspect of the Middle East.
I chose my degree because I wanted to learn and understand about what drives such a minority of people to commit such disturbing and violent crimes – this did not necessarily mean I was good at the many History or Sociology style essays that my course demanded. I had dropped History at the age of 13 (in favor of Geography) and had no real clue on how to write a successful economics or sociology based essay. With no previous experience, my many weeks and nights of research, reading and working produced mediocre essay grades. It quickly became disheartening.
Now I stand on before the crossroads, full of ambition to head out into the REAL world (and not back to the bubble of boozing, late nights and half hearted work). I want to work, I want to finally start LIVING my life. I am grateful every day that I have had an experience that showed me there is a beautiful gold lined path leading to a career that I am passionate about and also extremely good at. I used to be passionate about my degree, but that does not automatically mean it is meant for me or that I will succeed in it.
A piece of paper (a degree), does not get you any more further in life than someone with self determination, passion and confidence in what they want to pursue, and I hope many others realize that University is not the only way to succeed in what you want in life. Time, experience and passion are truly the vital ingredients to lead you onto a life that you will love and never look back on and regret.
Don’t ever let parents/significant others/friends ever try to keep you from what you truly believe is the right thing for YOU. Once you can manage that, the crossroads won’t seem as scary as you think.
From London with love,