Many members of my generation grew up hearing, “You can be anything you want.”
"Astronaut, doctor, the first female president or the first guy on Mars - if you can dream it you, you can do it," our parents and mentors told us.
Execution of being "anything you want" gets a little more complicated as you age. First, there's the challenge of getting in to study your area of choice - if you want to be a doctor, you have to be able to get into med school. Or if you're indecisive, all your options can be paralyzing.
And then there's the matter of paying for that education. I have a friend in med school who told me that, after your first year in, it's almost impossible to change your mind about your career choice because you're already in deep with student loans.
Once you decide that dream you're studying in grad school isn't actually what you want to do, it takes some serious fortitude to change your mind. But it happens.
For example, take local chocolate maker Dan Schreiber. His passion started as a hobby, and when I interviewed him last fall, he said it was a distraction from his studies.
"Grad school can be a depressing type of place, I think,” Schreiber told me last fall.
"I recently saw this movie called 'Proceed and be Bold!' at the CU Art Theatre, which was about this printmaker named Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.," Schreiber told me in an e-mail yesterday. "He left a job at AT&T when he was about 40 to pursue a discovered passion doing artistic and provocative printing. Ideas in the film about craft, finding meaning through physical process, passion and considerations involved in its pursuit resonated with me. I suppose all I can do is advise people to watch this movie!"
Another friend has been struggling this year after starting graduate school in a program she thought she loved. Her expectations have continually been challenged, and after a full year, she's decided it's not for her.
It takes courage to tell the world, "This is what I thought I wanted. Turns out, it's not."
I'm a big fan of sticking up for myself and encouraging others to do the same. After all, if you're not going to look after yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. Making a hard choice about what you really want seems like the ultimate execution of taking care of yourself.
It reminds me of this quotation:
"The minute you begin to do what you want to do, it's a different kind of life."
- Buckminster Fuller
What about you - what's the hardest, life-changing decision you've ever made? Was it worth it?
Photo from http://thejournalistachronicle.wordpress.com.