Who Do You Want To Be?

First few hours in Shanghai, on a bridge going into the city.  August 2012.

First few hours in Shanghai, on a bridge going into the city. August 2012.

Some people go 40mph, some go 50-60, and there are others that take detours, roundabouts, and get lost.

A new day, a new start

My first blog post and first publicized documentation of my musings on life in the post-grad era.  A lot of people might not know this about me, but I’m an overthinker, a muser, and I like to explore my thoughts by laying everything and anything out there, either on paper or by subjecting friends and strangers to my will.  Anyways, now that we’re at the jump-off, I’ll start off with the pieces of advice I tell myself everyday:

  • It’s never too late, or too early, to start all over again or to be who you want to be.
  • All good things take time, so don’t compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.
oil on canvas, 40" x 30" 1996Ruth Parson and Steve Harlow

Commission portrait, “Jenn”.
Oil on canvas, 40″ x 30″ 1996
Ruth Parson and Steve Harlow


The other day, I decided to make one of my routine calls while waiting at my bus stop, this time to a friend I mostly discuss life and weird, awkward philosophies about the universe with–quite literally.  It’s pretty freaky but, even though we’re a few hundred miles away now, we’ve had findings and thoughts processes that were like fraternal twins–not exactly identical, but they’ve definitely touched on some uncanny strain of thought.  (Kind of cool.)  In any case, our conversation got us to talking about our recent perspectives on jobs and life, prompted by me asking if he knew what he wanted to do, and things just stemmed from there.  Interesting enough were our two philosophies on life thus far:

Friend’s latest philosophy: Don’t try to live by figuring out what you want to do but rather by who you want to be.

My latest philosophy: Rather than trying to decide what occupation or job you want to do in the next five or ten years, what are you interested in right now and what opportunities will allow you to explore them further?

I think particularly for young people and recent graduates these days, everyone will have their own idea of where they want to be, what they want to do when they grow up, and when and how fast they think or hope to get there, which is great but sometimes hard to keep in perspective.  I know that for myself, I do feel a certain pressure that now that I’m a college graduate, nearly 23 years old, and out here in the world that I need to be at a certain place or on my way in a serious career path in life and right now.  That might be the path that some people take, hope to pursue, or are on that road if they choose, which is great!  But for me, my tension lies not in my uncertainty of what career path I might want to invest in right now, but in my aching for exploration and adventure juxtaposed by my responsibilities that I have here.

Honestly, over the past few months, or maybe even since graduation, I’ve been in a mental battle with myself over this same issue: as a recent graduate who’s had the opportunity to already study abroad, who’s already had 4 years away at college, and has student loans to pay back, shouldn’t I focus on finding “relevant” or professional experience?  However, aligning with my philosophy of pursuing opportunities to explore what I’m truly interested in or passionate about right now, and moreover if I can find a way to cover my financial obligations, wouldn’t teaching abroad by the right opportunity make sense?  As long as I’m smart about things and believe that the dots will connect and things will work out, why not take the chance?  Wouldn’t this be more in line with living according to who I want to be rather than just by what I want to do?  What am I afraid of?

More to come.


Image: p0ps Harlow via Flickr.

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