Have you ever taken time to think about whether you are doing or wearing something because you have genuine interest in it, or are you just doing it because everyone else around you is doing it? There have been many times that I have found myself wearing clothes I don’t even like or at events that I’m not even interested in just because all of my friends and their friends were doing it. Because it was trendy.
The older I have gotten, I have noticed that the pressure to have it all figured out and my life put together in perfect little pieces has significantly grown.
As a senior, I have to begin preparing my farewells to this campus and my professors, as well as the four years of great memories that this campus holds. Unfortunately, I also have to begin preparing the speeches I am going to give in explanation to the overwhelming bombardment of questions like: “What are your plans after graduation? Did you get into grad school? Do you have a job lined up yet?” and the list goes on.
I have to prepare myself to explain that I have zero idea of what I am going to do with my adult life. I don’t quite know how to prove my realistic understanding of life to my parents when I tell them that the reason I don’t have a “real” job lined up for post-grad is because I haven’t found the perfect one yet. I don’t know how to tell them that even though a job may give me financial security, I won’t take it if I’m not happy doing it.
Yet, I don’t know why I have to explain that to anyone either. There is an unspoken expectation that once you get out of college you’re supposed to have a good job lined up and your own place to live in. And for those of us who aren’t that prepared for our post-grad life, it makes us feel like we aren’t keeping up with the standards of success.
What I don’t understand is why I feel the pressure to so heavily conform to society’s standards of success. Just the thought of how I don’t have a solid plan locked into place stirs anxiety within me and makes me want to avoid the topic entirely.
However, I think the pressure to conform is much greater than the pressure to actually have a solid plan for life. More often than not, when people step outside of society’s comfort zone for their physical appearance, career choices, and even their own personal interests, they are looked at as odd or different.
In reality, there are no rules that say you must conform to a certain lifestyle or adhere to a certain outward appearance. The pressure we feel to fit in and make the “right” choices for our lives comes from the expectation that we are just going to keep on moving along right in the path that everyone else is taking.
I’m not saying that it isn’t OK to do what everyone else doing or making similar life decisions as others. But I am saying that for those who choose to do something different, to follow what truly interests them, that is OK too. It is not fair to ourselves to carry the stress that comes with not conforming to what everyone else thinks we should be doing.
We should be encouraged to take that step outside of our comfort zones and to take risks without the fear of being viewed in a different manner by others. As seniors about to graduate, taking risks can be a nerve-wracking thing to do, especially since we aren’t always sure of the outcome of our life choices. However, we owe it to ourselves to stay true to who we are and the interests we have, regardless of what other people may think. At the end of the day, one of the greatest achievements in life is being happy with the choices we make. We can never have that if we are only making choices based on what other people deem as a viable way of living.