The Undecided Journey

The rhythmic hammering of wooden sticks against the hollow drums not only marked the start of TEDxUCIrvine, but also echoed the pace of Kenny Azama’s travels. He sold all of his personal possessions in exchange for a one-way ticket to Thailand, something many of us may be too paranoid to pursue. It could be a priceless experience of a lifetime. In fact, Kenny admitted that it was the best decision of his life.

He made his choice right after he graduated from UC Irvine. Many of us would’ve been content with that — with just graduating from college. At least I would have been.

I have only had two month’s experience of college, and my rant list already resembles that of a third-year’s. Something like I want to go to sleep and I hate biology. And I hate biology. How can something microscopic like a cell be too complex to understand?

Many of us would have knocked out on the couch and rested. You just graduated college. What are you going to do now? Find a job. Go to grad school. Build your career. It’s terrifying. There’s always this daunting cloud stalking us and generating an irritable storm of stress that the future is uncertain. Kenny Azama went for an experience that feels surreal and distant to me.  How did he do that? How can I do that? How can you do that?

“Comfortability killed the traveler,” he said. While his friends were drowning in worry about their future careers and jobs after college, Kenny Azama embraced adventure. What his peers were going for didn’t parallel to his own desires.

I can’t say much on his behalf. But just from listening to Azama speak, I can conclude that just graduating from college felt uncertain for him. Not knowing what could happen is a nightmare. Yet this did not hinder his pursuit for something else, something more.

As an undecided freshman, graduation is too far from my grasp to even think about. Nevertheless, it feels like there’s nothing else I should be thinking endlessly about other than my future after college. The weight of self-doubt is exhausting. There’s always a clash between what if I am not good enough or I won’t get a job if I pursue something anyways. But my gut tells me to write. I know I may not be great but my gut urges me to write. I still think that being comfortable kills the traveler. But what happens when we become uncomfortable? We hesitate. We stop. We worry. We have nothing.

So I ask myself again, how did he do that?

After a few speakers and videos, the TED icebreaker broke the barrier between a fellow attendee and me:  he was a consultant, an accountant and a filmmaker.

“You have to support your own art and be practical,” he said. I shared with him that I was looking into double majoring in international studies and literary journalism. He countered with his advice that a double major in business and literary journalism would be a better combination.

I appreciate his words of wisdom but if I did pursue the latter, it wouldn’t sound right. The thing is, it really is just different for everyone.  It is exciting because I get to make my own the choices, and yet I am anxious, which is not a reason to have someone else make the choices for me.  This attendee to TEDxUCIrvine was different in his own way so his story wasn’t similar to Kenny Azama’s story. But they both seemed happy to me. Kenny Azama embraced traveling while the other person deeply cared for his art.

Practicality is a personal preference.  Be familiar and make it yours.

 

Anna Ramirez is a first-year undecided/undeclared major. She can be reached at annafr@uci.edu