A Fourth Year’s Hopes and Fears

David Conley | New University

As my last year of college nears, I have two emotions: excitement and fear. I’m excited because the rest of my life is a blank canvas, so to say, and I have the power to paint any picture I want. But I’m also fearful bec ause my past shows that I always play it safe, and in order to follow one’s dreams, one has to take risks. I am less scared of chasing my dreams and failing than I am of never embarking on them at all. I don’t trust myself, and right now I am very afraid that I will graduate and do the safe, reasonable thing rather than pursue what I actually want to do with my life.

When you’re a child, your life is drawn out in stages. You do six years of elementary school, two years of middle school, four years of high school, and then, in my case, four years of college. The summer of 2013 will be the first time in my life when there will not be a predetermined stage that I have to move on to. It will be the first time that I will have the freedom to decide what the next stage of my life will be. This frightens me more than I can put into words. I can no longer evade the real world. I am being pushed off a cliff into it.

In a way, my adult life up to now has been a cop-out. The decision to attend college, although conventional and responsible, was ultimately a way to avoid facing my true dreams and postpone them by four years. This being said, college was the right choice for me after high school. I’ve met incredible people and have learned a great amount about life and my area of study. I was not ready for the real world after high school; I had a semblance of what I desired but I was not completely sure. I would have been lost. College has been an amazing experience that I would not trade for anything; I am not detracting from it. What I am saying is that when I graduate college it will be the end of the predetermined stages of my life, there will be no more “cop-outs” that will allow me to shy away from my dreams. I will no longer be able to easily play it safe. From here on out, my life is unwritten.

I fear waking up 20 years from now and thinking “what if?” The safe route would be to become a teacher. My parents are teachers; they lead happy lives and are also financially stable. I want to be a stand-up comedian. This is a career that, like teaching, also offers happiness and financial stability, but more often than not, delivers heartbreak and financial struggle. Becoming a teacher would be one of the “cop-outs” I have been talking about. Would I make a good teacher? Sure. Would I be reasonably happy? I believe so. Would I be financially stable? Yes. But it is not what I want most in my life. Life is short, and if we truly only get one shot at it, we have to make it count. We have to do what makes us happy. There’s a phrase that goes something like this: “If you have a plan B, you’re never going to give your all to plan A.” I agree. Do what you want, focus on it, work hard, and be kind. That’s all that you can do; the rest is in the hands of God.

The truth is that in this increasingly money-obsessed world, less and less people are pursuing their dreams, and more and more people are settling for professions that will bring them financial stability. I’m not saying this is not a sensible or  smart thing to do, but I  want people to ask themselves what would make them most happy. It makes me sad to think of people sacrificing their dreams and passions because of money, which is itself a meaningless creation of man that only derives its value from the pretense that having more money is better. Don’t let this world or this system control you. You have to do what makes you happy. Don’t wake up 20 years from now and think “what if?”

The more I think about graduation, the more ready I feel. The thought of pursuing my dreams is thrilling. The idea of achieving some of them makes me smile involuntarily. Slowly but surely, my fear is turning into excitement. As the summer of 2013 approaches a year from now, I realize I am ready to live.