There is a poem by Mary Oliver which begins with the line, “You do not have to be good,” a statement that goes against everything I have ever told myself.
Lately, I have found myself plagued by this impending fear that I will never find something I am good at. It is so easy to simply stop setting goals for yourself, to stop dreaming for anything more when the prospect of failure makes those things seem hopeless.
For me, my once hopeful self has been stifled by the fear that I am simply not good enough to even bother dreaming. It feels selfish to worry about this sort of thing, “why does it matter?” I ask myself.
Although I am not sure, I know that it does. Going to school here, at Tech, where everyone seems to have a dream or a passion, it makes it difficult to be directionless.
From the moment you set foot on Tech’s campus, you are expected to know what you want and where you are going. You are expected to be “the next,” but what do you do when you are unable to finish that sentence? The next what?
In my first year at Tech I thought I knew what I wanted but quickly discovered how wrong I had been. I changed my major from electrical engineering to computational media, two things that felt so far apart. At the beginning, that was enough, it felt as if I was at least heading in the right direction. I had recalibrated my life compass and had settled on my own true north. Except, now in my third year, I feel as if I am standing still.
All of a sudden graduation feels so close, like this whole life experience is about to end and I am going to have to leave this bubble that I have become so comfortable in. I trouble myself by comparing my experiences to the people around me. Everything I have not done is somehow a strike against me. Insecure about my lack of internships and real-world experience, I wonder if I have run out of time to figure out what I want to do with my life.
Feeling farther than ever from any hopes or dreams, it is as if all of that recalibrating was pointless. As I circle through this endless loop of “where,” “why” and “what is all of this even for?,” it is so easyto forget all of the details, to forget to look around at where I am.
When I stop, even just for a moment, and take it all in, I start to notice a few things. I start to see how far from that first year I have come: I have learned what I can and cannot handle, how to give myself a little bit of grace for all the things out of my control, that it is not my fate to fail at all things CS and that I really do belong here, among all these admirable and driven people. When the thought that I am stuck begins to creep into my mind and tempt my anxiety, I remind myself that just because I cannot see where I am going, does not mean I am going nowhere.
It just means I need to lean into a little bit more faith in myself along the way. I do not have to know where I am going to get there, and I do not have to be good at something measurable and tangible in order to have hopes and dreams.
So often I hold back because I am afraid to have dreams I am incapable of reaching; but if you let yourself quietly reach out and hope, I think you will find that one dream leads to another. While I may be feeling frustrated that I cannot see where I am going and that I have stubbed my toe in the dark one too many times, I am going to try to hope, trusting that even if this dream does not work out, it will lead me to one that will.