A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with several upper-year students about a myriad of topics ranging from school to philosophy. During the course of the evening, while enjoying a bowl of Pad Thai at The Wave, I began to reconsider my outlook on academics, career goals and even life in general. These individuals pushed me to question my own beliefs, something which I haven’t done for a long time. It’s difficult to put into words, but the entire conversation was enlightening in the sense that I was challenged to ponder my own future.
For the longest time, I had always wanted to be successful. While that still holds true, after talking with my upper-year mentors, I realized that the traditional route of attending some kind of professional school (law, medicine, dentistry, business, etc.) is not necessarily the best option for everyone. The structured nature of these programs and the cookie-cutter graduates they produce, while successful, are quite standard. Sure, companies like to hire managers that follow the rules, and hospitals like doctors who adhere to protocol. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
The problem for me is that I’ve always questioned everything I see and hear. Even if I seem reserved, my mind is always spinning and trying to distinguish truth from lie. It’s just a part of my nature, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Conformity is also something that I try to escape at all costs. Why be like every other lawyer, doctor and business manager in the world when one can forge his/her own path? What happened to having a unique personality? These are the questions that kept running through my mind throughout the evening.
Now, I’m not trying to say that all professionals are robots who spout nothing but praise about their prestigious alma maters. However, there is much to learn from successful individuals who are never afraid of pushing boundaries. They couldn’t care less about what others thought of them, and this I greatly admire. I would much rather concentrate my energies on issues and causes that I’m passionate about than conform to society.
As an aspiring professional, I also hope to have the strength to break down barriers and not be afraid of acting differently than my peers. While an established lifestyle almost always guarantees success – going against the grain, while difficult, can be much more fulfilling.