My niece visited a couple of weeks ago, making our house the last stop on a road trip before she headed back to college.
She’s starting her Sophomore year this autumn and as often happens, we started talking about life. She loves animals, so growing up, when adults asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ her default answer was ‘veterinarian’.
She’s taken basic general education classes and started to take a few that will go toward her veterinarian degree. She confided to me that she is second-guessing her decision. She isn’t sure that liking animals equates with the desire to treat them for a living. She said she’s mentioned it to other adults in her life have told her to stay the course.
How disheartening that must be.
There are certainly times when one must plod along doing something they dislike to feed the kids, to put a roof over their head, to survive. To tell a young adult to just stay the course, though, when it’s early enough to change their mind, to save the time and money, and effort that goes into getting a degree seems ludicrous to me. She’s an amazing artist- what if that is her calling?
I told her what I wish someone would have told me at her age: everyone will have an opinion about how you should live your life, but you’re the only one that actually has to live it. I said it’s good to take chances and make mistakes and fail. That life is messy and no one does it perfectly.
As a kid, I wanted to be a published author, live by the ocean, travel, and swim with dolphins. My dreams weren’t crazy, but while I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, it came with the understanding that the caveat was to go to college, get a good 9-to-5 job with benefits, settle down, and live the status quo. I did that, squeezing traveling and beach trips in when I had vacation time at work.
Five years ago, I quit that life. I branched into owning a business. I have lived abroad. Now, I regularly see the sunshine, walk outside in my bare feet, and have grown food grown in my garden. Those are things that are important to me. What about you? What do you intentionally do to live the life you want?