Everyone seems to have “made it.” Friends. Seniors. Alumni.
They are so successful!
They have their own business, opened a café, launched clothing lines, and getting promotions.
And here you are (well, I’m here too), feeling lost – and wondering if you will ever “make it there.”
I never like the phrase “make it.”
For me, it represents certain assumptions I don’t support. One, that everyone has an “eventual fixed destination” to reach; only then would their accomplishments be considered. Two, everyone has mapped out their life and this road is the only path they may follow. Three, that your “success” is something that’s one dimensional and external, disregarding people who require more than a few words to describe their definition of “success,” or those who define internal growth, and a sense of satisfaction with life as their achievements.
These assumptions “limit” you and your possibility. Here are my reasons.
Firstly, most graduates (me included) fall prey to the idea of an “eventual fixed destination.” It is nothing to be ashamed of. When I graduated, my goal was high. I poured out everything I had to achieve that goal, but I failed. I couldn’t get it. I settled for a path completely unexpected for me, feeling bewildered everyday about how I ended up here and why I’m facing these unanticipated struggles.
Unexpectedly, when I was free from the obsession to “make it,” I was able to focus on the actions I was taking. The little moment of personal growth, of being calmer, of being able to handle a task previously beyond my capacity (Hi Excel and writing an academic paper in Thai!)—these became the highlights of my journey. You see, success isn’t the destination. It is the journey: the wandering, the going astray, and the feeling of being lost. I would like to encourage you, everyone feels lost. Acknowledge it. Recognize it. Enjoy it. You are in an uncharted territory. It is here that you will make discoveries. All is not lost. You are still on your way. It may be a different road, but hey, it’s up to you to make this path an awesome one.
Secondly, I want to highlight the importance of action. You may have doubts. Hey, we all do, but you know what – let’s take the helm of our life boat, steer in the direction we want to go, and move forward the best we can. Have a bias for action. Keep moving, no matter how difficult it is. Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. Keep exploring; you may even uncover unexpected little goals in this new terrain. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Remember those moments when the younger you took the leap of faith, and it turned out OK? Please do believe in yourself again. It is OK not knowing where you are going. When was the last time a trip went according to your plan anyhow? Feel free to keep refreshing (or even reinventing!) your goals. Honestly, feel free to keep re-inventing your life. Don’t stop moving just because you don’t have a map in your hand. Nobody has a map either. If you want to see more of the world around you, of the possibility, of more paths unexplored, take action!
Stop beating yourself up for not knowing where exactly you are going to next. It’s great to have a dream, but have the courage and the kindness to explore, expand, and take inspiration. As you grow through experience, your “success” grows, shifts, and changes, too.
Don’t plan your life based on analogy, or others’ definition of success. Your success is yours to define.
It’s imperative that you always see every single day as an opportunity towards a road unexplored. You will have doubts. You will struggle. Explore anyway.
There is absolutely no shame in feeling lost. All the successful alumni you admire, they all have had feelings like the one you are having.
Please be at peace with not knowing, not understanding.
It is not a threat.
Curiosity is what takes you to roads less traveled, and the view is just as stunning.
If not more.
As for me:
“Where do you see myself in 10 years?”
“Hopefully, everywhere and nowhere. I want to go as long as possible, forever if I can, feeling as if I’ve never arrived, and be completely at peace with that (R.J. Raymond).”
Ms. Praiya Uranukul
MUIC Class of 2014 BSc Environmental Science (Minor International Studies)
Imperial College London: MSc Environmental Technology (Global Policy)
ERM-SIAM, Corporate Sustainability Consultant
Extra food-for-the soul volunteer jobs:
Organizer & facilitator of Design Thinking Workshop for Siriraj, Pak Bor Temple School & TMB
Blind Theatre Thailand: Project Impact Valuation, Sponsorship Team’s Proposal Writer, Public Relations