by Jade Foote / news editor
The holidays are a time for gathering with relatives and friends who ask questions such as, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and “What’s your plan after you graduate?”
I don’t know about you, but whenever someone asks me what’s next, I feel like saying that I’ll only answer if they plan on following up with a job offer or at least a nice gift card. How should we deal with queries regarding our futures, especially when we might not have the answers?
Maybe you know what you want to do with your life, but to others it might seem like a career that’s unreliable or hard to achieve. In times like these, I always think about one of my personal icons: beloved rap superstar, Nicki Minaj. Before she was the star we know and love today, Minaj was working at multiple Red Lobster locations; people were getting mad at her because she wouldn’t bring them enough Cheddar Bay Biscuits. There are plenty of successful people who had a vision for their life and, in the meantime, had jobs that weren’t great so they could pay the bills. Minaj is an example of someone who probably knew what they were going to achieve in the long run.
Ultimately, you need that driving force within yourself. You need to remember that even though people might only look at where you are currently, it’s not the “be-all and end-all” of your life. There are going to be people who believe in you, and there are going to be haters; usually they’re old relatives who are disappointed that you don’t want to be an accountant (if you want to be an accountant, that’s cool because the world constantly needs accountants).
It’s important to suss out people’s intentions when they inquire about your future. Some ask because they truly care and would like to help you, or they’re just generally interested in what you’re interested in. On the other hand, there are people who judge you if your answer isn’t what they want to hear. You’ll have that cool aunt who’s like, “Good for you. I support your dream of becoming an interpretive dancer.” Then there’s the other aunt who purses her lips and says, “Well, I don’t know about that.”
In general, people like to judge other’s aspirations because it makes them feel better about their own path and more secure in what they’ve done; and you can always sense that insecurity. Oftentimes, when people pass judgment on your ambitions, they usually don’t know who you fully are; they don’t know your entire personality or what you’re capable of. If they do know those things, it’s likely that they’re just underestimating you out of a projection of their own insecurities or lack of confidence.
The easiest way to shut down someone’s doubt toward your hopes and dreams is to respond to them confidently and clearly, like so: “Look, Aunt Sally. I DO want to be an interpretive dancer, and I’m putting every ounce of my effort into making that dream a reality. So, if you cannot support that, please just keep your opinions to yourself.”
But don’t worry. The people who are truly riding for you aren’t going to express doubt toward your dreams because they believe in you. And if worse comes to worst, there are over 100,000 WikiHow pages that can teach you how to do anything; if your future plans go awry, you can figure something else out via the power of the Internet.