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Friday, June 21, 2024

College is all about preparing students for the real world. Through rigorous courses and specific major tracks, students have the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to land a job that will support a decent house, a big family and a couple of dogs.

Even though I'm at college studying with everyone else, I can't help but feel out of place because of one teensy problem: I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life.

My uncertainty almost makes me feel like giving up. Maybe I should just accept the fact that I am destined to be a cat lady.

It's not that I haven't thought carefully about the future. The truth is that I've been asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" since birth. It was okay to not know the answer to that question as a child, but grown-up status is only a few years away - and I'm starting to panic.

Back when we were kids, we could change our prospective plans from being an astronaut to an actor without worrying about the huge amount of training it actually takes to float in outer space, or that the chances of starring in a romantic comedy alongside Brad Pitt are dismal.

But now, with adulthood looming, it's time to buckle down and seriously consider who and what we want to be.

Decisions are too hard. I wish I were one of those violin protégées who has been composing music since age 2, or an academic whiz kid whose life ambition has always been to be a neurosurgeon. Life would be so much easier if I were really good at just one thing. But unfortunately, I'm no Good Will Hunting, born with the natural ability to solve difficult mathematical equations, which means I have to come up with my own life plan.

I don't know why I'm having such a hard time when other students are so confident in their studies.

It seems like most of my friends are in really intense science courses, trying to fulfill their life dream of becoming a pharmacist or a pediatrician. While my friends are busy dissecting wildlife and volunteering at Shands, taking all the necessary steps to get into medical school, I'm stuck in a bunch of random classes, "testing the waters" to see what I like studying.

But the more waters I test, the more I panic, because I feel like I am lacking the specific direction everyone else seems to have.

Oh well. I shouldn't get too depressed because there are tons of resources around campus, such as the Career Resource Center, to help me with this dilemma.

There is also an abundance of people who already have interesting careers who probably wouldn't mind having their brains picked by a student curious about their professions. And that's not counting the number of academic advisers and professors who are always happy to assist uncertain students.

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And anyway, it's not the end of the world if I don't know what I want to do at this very moment. I'm sure I'll find my way eventually.

But in the meantime, I think I'll buy some cats - just in case.

Colleen Shea is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column appears on Fridays.

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