Academic and Career Maturity
"Focus less on who you want to be and focus more on what you want to do." I heard this quote from a video of President Barack Obama when he was passing on wisdom to White House Interns back when he was in office. I've thought a lot about this advice in the past several weeks, and I'm taking it to heart. The academic journey here at Dartmouth will teach you things, and I've certainly learned a lot over the past several months. The key here is to remain open-minded. You will learn a lot about yourself during your first year of college, and Dartmouth has been there for me every step of the way.
Focusing on what you want to do is a powerful yet scary statement. Oftentimes, I find myself fantasizing about who I want to be and what I want to become rather than emphasizing what I want to actually do for a living. For example, it's a dream of mine to work for the President one day. I would love to go into a career of public service and earn myself a position of influence in government. However, I think I've spent too much time fixating on this idea. I would find myself saying things like "Well, I should probably major in 'X' to make my resume attractive to employers." Or "I should probably take this class because it will make my academic journey more rigorous." Although this mindset works for some, I've come to realize it doesn't work for me.
Thinking about all of this reminds me of something my dad told me before I left for college, "Son, do what you love and call it work." That's a more powerful statement than I gave it credit for at the time. The truth is, I feel that I've got sucked into this feeling of "I've got to take the most ambitious path no matter what," and that's just not how I want to operate moving forward. For instance, the internship I did this summer was marvelous for my resume and for my future career aspects. However, it didn't entail what I picture my future career to be, and it wasn't that enjoyable. I'm slowly starting to realize my priorities as an adult, and my career is high on that list. What I haven't realized until now, is that the path you take to get that dream career is important as well. A quote from John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" puts this perfectly: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Here's what I mean in the context of academics and Dartmouth specifically: I felt that I had to mold myself to what everyone else is doing because it's "safe" and "competitive." For example, Dartmouth is huge on climate advocacy and environmental science, but my passions lie in severe weather and disaster response communication. The good news is, Dartmouth allows for career exploration in any niche academic area you may desire. That's why I'm working on crafting my special major in "Applied Climate Science and Communication." Now, I can focus more on what I want to do, and less on the expectations of who I ought to be. I can safely say I will be much happier with this approach to life at Dartmouth!