opinion

OPINION: How I found my path, and how to find yours



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The sun shines over the U.S. Capitol Building on Nov. 1 in Washington, D.C. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

Sometimes, it feels like you’re on the cusp of an exponential curve in life. I recently accepted an internship in Washington, D.C., for the upcoming spring semester and just want to briefly relive the personal journey that helped my find my path.

First: take a step back from what you’re doing in life and ask yourself a few things. Do you make yourself proud? Do you like the path you’re on? Are you happy?

As students eventually move into the workforce, the overall process can be daunting. Our future is still up in the air. A recent survey found that 53.7% of workers are overall satisfied overall with their job. We all worry about being that 46.3%, trapped in a job we hate. Engaging yourself with professional experience and finding what you love is what sets you on the right path.

My path started with a phone call.

In 2008, my grandmother, who I fondly called Mimi, invited me to an office to make phone calls during the primary. Of course, at the young age of 8, I really had no idea about the ongoing election or really what a Democrat or Republican is ; I just wanted to see Mimi.

So off we went, into the poster and pastry filled campaign office. Sitting in the office, most likely munching on a donut while Mimi did the work, I remember her asking me if I wanted to make a phone call.

This was not part of the plan.

Ultimately, in Mimi fashion, she convinced me to go through with the call. I was nervous but got through it. She smiled and held me in a warm embrace, telling me I did a great job. I don’t remember the call, or what I said, but I remember her. This was one of the fondest memories I had with her before she passed away unexpectedly a year later.

My path didn't find me again after that until around the 2016 election. After Donald Trump’s shock victory, I felt a fire lit underneath me. The political allure always stuck with me,but I knew I had to act upon it. That’s when I snowballed into politics with the Liz Watson campaign for Congress.

I worked as a lead fellow for her campaign as I got involved in other campus organizations like IU Democrats. This ultimately led to an application for the IU Political Science D.C. internship program and where I stand now.

A simple outing with my grandma instilled a love for a career path that, no matter the punches, I can’t seem to let go of. I feel as if politics, funnily enough, is the one constant I can rely on. It gives me the opportunity to fight for what I fully believe in.

For many people struggling to find their path, research suggests that more focus needs to be placed on painting a vivid picture of what will happen once they achieve their goals.

My goals help me break from my fear of rejection. Whether it’s my weight, my looks or life’s mistakes, there's this genuine physical burden of desperately seeking approval from others. With politics, however, I feel empowered. I march to the beat of my own drum.

I can’t wait for this opportunity to intern. I think back to my friends, family and Mimi. I just hope I make them proud. But, the thing is, it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t. What matters is that I make myself proud and know what success looks like for me.

It doesn't have to be politics that helps you find yourself. It could be an entire career plan shift. It can simply be joining a new club on campus or writing that play you've always had in your mind.

We always feel this immense pressure to succeed. We are trapped by the fear of failure and judgement. Bogged down each day by expectation, we need to free ourselves from the path others have predetermined for us. This “success” isn’t attainable and never will be. You need to find your success.

I’ve been down the wrong path plenty of times; breaking my back to please others, exploring careers I know I’d loathe and much worse. I still veer off the path from time to time. Yet, I work toward a better future each day. Take the first step in finding your right path.

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