I was in high school. A people pleaser to the extreme and always seeking affirmation and guidance. Especially from my parents.
If you asked my favorite class at the time, there would have been no hesitation: art history. Followed by journalism, followed by English lit, followed by European history (yeah, I was weird, I know).
But then ask me my intended career path that year and I would have told you engineering. Because that's so aligned with my interests, right?
The only explanation for my pilfering through brochures explaining engineering programs at various universities and even my visit to Georgia Tech was my belief that good ol' Mom and Dad really did know best. They could guide me right where I needed to be. And if Dad encouraged me to pursue a male-dominated field like engineering because that's where good money was, than maybe that's what I needed to do.
No plot twist here: my engineering pursuits didn't last long at all. They eventually evolved into a medical path (less obnoxious, but still not me) before finally settling in on journalism.
Guidance is great, but no one else is inside your head. Common sense, I know, but so few actually realize this implication.
My dad's advice is likely on point for someone. There's a high school girl out there who foams at the mouth when a linear equation is scribbled on the white board and will be in absolute heaven as she makes bank and bypasses males because, well, her employer really needed to meet quota for the gender gap and took her on regardless of if she was the best qualified applicant (the latter part is an argument for another time, but I think this is something like what Pops envisioned).
Regardless of how great certain guidance may be, that doesn't mean it's great guidance for you. Only you know what makes you tick. Only you know what makes you feel alive, what makes you have hope, what makes you get that deep to your core stir of passion within.
So, when it comes down to it, it's you who's your own best guide.
Cue the "always let your conscience be your guide" jingle or shrug off what may seem like cheesy advice, but it's simply true. No one knows what will make you happy quite like you do.
So, I learned the lesson once and that's fine and dandy, but here I sit, apparently needing to learn it again. Yes, I'm pursuing journalism now and yes, that makes me happy. But, just because I have the vision of where I want to be, doesn't mean I have any idea on how to go about getting there. It may be four years since I followed my own direction and left mathematical pursuits behind (thank God), but I'm still secretly hoping for guidance, for someone to tell me what I can't seem to figure out myself: where do I go now?
Because following my parents' guidance worked so well for me for the first time (Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, I promise I don't think all of your advice sucked, it's just that the whole future/life-direction bit that didn't really work out), the obvious solution was to seek their guidance once again.
As I sat at dinner with my mom who was visiting town, I rattled off idea after idea: well there's this internship and this school and there could end up being this job and I could end up finding these connections in this city.
I knew better.
I knew there was nothing she could tell me that would give me true guidance. She could reassure me that those ideas sounded great, she could bring up an idea or two of her own, but it's ultimately me who has to make the decision moving forward. It's ultimately me who has to decide where I go from here.
I've already learned once for myself that you really can't rely on someone else to push you in the right direction. You have to pick a direction and run toward it with every semblance of strength and passion you have within you.
There was nothing she was going to say to make me feel a sense of certainty going forward, no "ah ha" moment awaiting me during our dinner conversation. She doesn't have the formula. I don't have the formula. And let's be honest... no one will ever really have the formula. You just have to dive in, put your all in your pursuit, hope for the best and be willing to work your ass off every step of the way.
So, for anyone waiting for that one piece of advice, that one conversation, that one explanation that will tell you exactly where to go from here-- stop waiting. Just go.
Be your own guide, listen to what others have to say and follow some advice along the way, but know one thing: you're the only person who can figure out where to go now to get you where you really want to be. So do something. Stop waiting around and go.
Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn