Reminder: Smell the roses

Life is hard — it’s unfair a lot of the time. No matter how many obstacles have been overcome, the next is not too far away. This may be a cynical way of looking at things, but it’s the truth. It’s undeniable. Some people just deal with their problems better than others. Some people just get used to their issues and accept reality. That’s life.

As college students, we have come to the point in our lives where the pressures are high and the future is blurry. We have come to the point where our dependence on parental finances is no longer that secure. Stress about doing well in school and concern about maintaining a competitive edge in the job market are both factors that play into making a fatigued and sometimes hopeless student.

Higher education, back in the good ol’ days of aristocracy, was meant to enhance one’s cultural knowledge and help one gain a cosmopolitan perspective. The purpose was to be familiar with high art and culture. College was not meant to be a vocational institute. It was meant to teach students a way of thinking, of theories and of life.

In contemporary times, that has gradually shifted to an emphasis on training for a career. Many college students hope that spending so much money on higher education would give them an advantage in securing a well-paid job and a financially secure life. However, being able to obtain the job of one’s dreams is more difficult than ever in the current economy, where employers have a “wait-and-see” attitude about hiring more people.

What happened to the time when we did what we liked and excelled at it because of the interest and passion we had? Isn’t that the whole mantra, where if you do something you like, you’re more likely to succeed?

Many people have shirked away from what their interests are and have moved to more practical career paths. They search for jobs that will always be in need of people, and they settle on the peace of mind that at least if they wanted to treat themselves to a BMW, they could.

But just because they have jumped ship to do what is safe doesn’t mean that it is any less competitive or any less difficult than if they were to stay with what they enjoyed. A person who always wanted to be a wedding planner may, under the pressures of parents, switch to studying pharmaceuticals.

Getting a job at a pharmacy may be easier in the sense that upon graduating she would obtain a position quickly, but the path in getting there is treacherous.

Treacherous not only because of the difficult classes that need to be taken but also because she does not enjoy it. Her sole reason in doing it is so she can buy a house with a white fence, a car and a dog to fulfill the idyllic vision of the “American Dream.”

Yet the American Dream is not just about obtaining material goods. The American Dream is the freedom to pursue whatever you like and have a chance to achieve great accomplishments. What happened to that?

The better question is, what happened to people doing what they like regardless of being successful at it? Isn’t quality of life more important than having a nine-to-five job? I understand the importance of being able to eat from what you do.

More than anything, I understand the need to be realistic and settle on what can uphold the increasingly expensive way of life. I’m not saying to drop your current plan and forget about all the hard work you have put into it. I’m just trying to throw the cliche “Slow down and smell the roses” at you in a different way so it will resonate.

What you end up doing in the future is not really up to you. It is all about your timing and your luck. Life is hard because it takes you on wild turns that you would never have imagined happening. It is hard because you cannot prepare or plan out the exact path that will lead you to the specific job.

Different opportunities will arise as you progress through life, and the best preparation you can ever have is doing the best you can now on what you like and hope that you will be able to rise to the occasion when that chance falls into your lap.

Stressing and worrying about the possible outcome of your future is useless. You can only plan so far ahead and only so detailed. Doing what you like would make the future seem less bleak, because at least you know you didn’t waste your time.

The best way to handle all the unknown is to keep an eye out for opportunities and just enjoy what you have now.