I remember my wonder years as a college student. Whenever I told someone I went to Penn State I would get the same response. Ohhh…Ahhh…Wooha! It made me feel good, like I was doing something great with my life. It made me feel validated even…But then after 4-years, I graduated.
As soon as I graduated, I knew things would change and it did. Now the Wooha’s were replaced with “So what now?” It was a frightening reality that my degree was just that, a degree, a piece of paper, and nothing I did in college mattered remotely to the giant machine we all know as the real world.
Eventually, the wooha’s came back when I landed my first job on Wall Street. I was working for a financial tech company which made it seem like everything I was doing was super important. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for my job was lackluster at best and the wooha’s began to diminish again. People could see that although my job was great it didn’t align with who I was or what I should be doing.
Chasing the wooha’s led me to do many other things that did not align with who I was. It led me to apply to law school when I knew deep down inside I didn’t love the idea of being a lawyer. It led me to apply to business school when deep down inside I knew I didn’t like the business culture that much. It led me to chase after goals that seemed pretty on paper and socially acceptable but just wasn’t for me. It led me to deny a bit of myself in the pursuit of acceptance.
Now, I am at the point in my life where the wooha’s cannot define my journey anymore. Yes, it would be great to be praised for how successful I am, but society defines success in very rigid and traditional ways and that’s just not my trajectory. I want to be true to myself, not the wooha’s. I want to be happy with what I am doing and I plan on doing just that.