By Aya Salah
We all go through life trying to discover the depth of our souls, determining what we like and want to do in our lifetime. The difference here is that each one of us has a journey of their own that differs from one another.
From a personal perspective, I struggled to find myself and know what I wanted to do in the future as a high school senior, when it was time to choose what to study at university. I was so confused, frustrated and anxious about this decision because I felt like I still don’t know what my passion was, and what I wanted to do with my life. I kept feeling pressured by the fact that this is a life decision that would dictate my future forever. So, I constantly researched about study fields to determine which one sounds the most interesting to me, and the field that I’d be passionate about working in, till I reached the answer: mass communication.
But that wasn’t the end, I still had doubts, worries and a lot of what-if questions “What if I made the wrong decision?”, “What if I thought this field would suit me, but it actually doesn’t?”, “What if I don’t find a job after I graduate?”
What I didn’t know during that time- but later realized- is that life is all about discovering, experiencing and working. It is okay to be in the process without knowing what’s going to happen by the end of it and it’s also not a problem if you feel lost, confused and unsure at some point.
Young people are often placed under the pressure to have clear goals, know their passion(s) and determine what they want to do in the future in early stages of their life, when they still don’t even have enough experience and still have so much to learn, discover and see. I mean, as kids, how many times were we asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Doesn’t it seem illogical to think that a kid who has so little experience, tools and perspectives and has yet to see the world would actually know what they want to do in their lives? We shouldn’t even expect an answer at that point, and take “I don’t know yet” as the right answer.
Being filled with uncertainty and not knowing which path to pursue makes young people feel like they’re failures or that time is running out in a world where certainty and productivity is glorified.
But here’s the thing, each person lives in a different context and has their own path in life that comes with unique experiences, circumstances and challenges that are not the same as someone else’s. However, many people find themselves comparing how their life goes to other people, but what they may don’t realize is that it’s really pointless to do so. Our usage of social media, for example, is a big factor that makes us compare ourselves regarding how many friends we have, how much we accomplished, how many countries we traveled to and how much our lives are figured out, even thought we all know that things we see on social media might be just an illusion and it’s not what it seems like.
What we need to remember is that we, as humans, are not supposed to be functioning at the same pace as others, and have the same mindsets and lifestyles. Some people may discover their purpose and passion in life earlier than others and it’s okay. We shouldn’t be perceiving life as a race or a competition, Rather, we should perceive it as a journey and a process we should allow to take whatever time it needs to take.
Besides that, we need to remember that life has variables and constants, meaning that there are many things that change in what’s inside us and what’s surrounding us according to what we experience, what we learn, what we feel,and the circumstances we are being put under. For instance, some people feel passionate about doing something as children, and that passion grows with them till they’re teenagers, but once they become adults, they feel frustrated and are no longer passionate about that thing and the reasons vary and have a lot of possibilities. Perhaps their interests and hobbies have changed, or they got exposed to new things, and it made their perspective wider, which led them to realize new things about themselves.
For example, Bassem Youssef, an egyptian comedian and TV host, was actually a surgeon but he discovered what he loves to do after 19 years of studying, working in the world of medicine . Walt Disney, founder of Walt Disney Animation company, worked as a news editor before he became an animator and established such a successful company. There are many other examples of people I know in real life who discovered their genuine passion and what they’re good at later in life, after undergoing different chapters beforehand. Despite the decisions they’ve previously taken that contradict with that passion, they still did what they liked later in their life.
Another reason that’s considered as a hard-to-swallow-pill is the circumstances. Yes, sometimes circumstances force us to go in another direction in life, even if that’s what we don’t want. Many people would think that humans can defy the circumstances and still be able to do what they want to do, and while that could be possible in some cases, it’s quite difficult in other cases.
The journey of discovering ourselves doesn’t happen so easily. There are obstacles, moments of learning and a lot of observation happen in the middle of it and we shouldn’t rush things and pressure ourselves by thinking there’s a specific timeline and a life plan we should follow.
Let’s always remember that discovering ourselves and finding a purpose in life is an entire journey, not a task or a goal that has a specific time to be done by. So, let’s give ourselves all the time to explore, discover and just go with the flow of life and see where it’d take us without pushing things and weighing our shoulders while trying to make sense of our existence in a specific period.
Aya Salah is a mass communication student at Cairo University who’s interested in the digital journalism field and aspires to be a professional in it. Her other interests include social activism, content creation and watching films. She’s currently interning at Sekka Magazine.
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