What Do I Want to Be?
I’m pretty sure everyone was asked as a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The usual response was something along the lines of “an astronaut!” “ a firefighter!” or “the president!” For me, it was “a baker!” and then “an anthropologist!” when I started to learn about Egyptian mythology. As we got older, this question and its meaning evolved into something far more serious, and so did we. The answers changed to “a lawyer,” “an engineer,” or “a doctor.” The switch happens so suddenly that you almost don’t realize it’s happened, and before you know it, you’ve set yourself on a path for what seems to be the rest of your life.
I was that person for a while. At the beginning of high school I started to lean into the idea of becoming a lawyer, or maybe a writer of some kind, but I never explicitly said what I wanted to because I was still uneasy about it. But as Covid rampaged the world, I started to realize I had no clue who I was or what I wanted to do with my life, but as a 10th grader, I just kept telling myself I would figure it out soon enough.
Junior year came and went, and due to the lockdown, I was unable to participate in college tours or college fairs, so the thought of figuring it out never really seemed to matter (although it as nagging me in the back of my mind). Senior year showed up far too soon, and as I began to fill out college applications, I realized I had no idea what my future looked like. I had a few interests I was floating between, one of them being acting, but I didn’t want to have to audition for a school to be accepted when I didn’t even know what I wanted, so I put undecided/undeclared.
This anxiety, this uncertainty, and blindness when it came to my future stunned me into stillness. It made me silently terrified of college, partially because I simply couldn’t see past graduation. I had been at my school since I was 4 years old, in the same town with the same people the whole time; this is where I grew into myself, and yet I had no idea who I was or where I wanted to go.
Soon enough I heard back from colleges and finally toured a few. It was one of the most back-and-forth decisions I’ve ever made (I probably should’ve mentioned earlier, I’m incredibly indecisive), but I committed to Arcadia. I was excited, I loved the campus, location, classes, and people, but it didn’t change the fact that I still couldn’t see past walking across that stage. As high school graduation passed, I then couldn’t see past the end of summer, then past saying goodbye to my friends, then past the flight to Philadelphia. An analogy I heard once that I can’t get out of my head is that it’s like walking around in a video game with an incredibly short render distance. I was trudging through life without being able to see 3 steps ahead of me.
Suddenly I was at Welcome Week and the dust started to settle. Then as classes began my render distance grew. Writing this now I’m past 6 weeks into courses. I am still undeclared, although I’m leaning towards acting, psychology, and creative writing, and incredibly anxious about what to do, but I can finally see a portion of my life beginning to unfold.
Going to college undeclared was the best decision I could have made. There is this unspoken (and sometimes spoken) pressure for students, children, to have it all mapped out. I promise, it will all work out in the end, so take your time and don’t worry about it. The future will come one way or another and there are always people to help guide you to determine what you want to be when you grow up.