What do you do when the age-old duel between the heart and the mind rears its ugly head? One thing that I often find hard to reconcile is the notion that there is a difference between what I think I should do (head), versus what I actually want to do (heart). This is a part of the decision-making process which haunts us each time we face a big life commitment. Take, for instance, when the time come to choose a degree subject or major – do we go with the type of subjects that we perform well in, or do we choose something we think we might enjoy? Fortunately for some, both of these options are one and the same, but others may require a bit more inspiration and convincing.
Another anxiety-inducing aspect of this conflict presents itself in the form of thoughts that
kindly shake you free of your daydreams and exclaim ‘Oh, but that’s not how you imagined your life would be at this stage! That’s not realistic’. (Damn you, brain).
That can be a tough box to get yourself out of. The expectations that we hold of our futures can often be our biggest setbacks and ‘risk-avoiders’. Going slightly off topic, this reminds me of Disney Channel’s ‘That’s So Raven’, in which Raven’s psychic abilities prompt her to try and avoid certain negative outcomes that she would see in her visions. In the process, she would end up creating the very mess that she was trying to avoid. If we apply this to real life, we might find that worrying too much about expectations and targets that we set ourselves or fretting too much over what the future will look like, could potentially be detrimental.
Having said that, it is important to note that a little forward planning doesn’t hurt. As long as you are open to flexibility, and remain open-minded about several different options you are interested in, you can ensure that your panic levels will remain relatively neutral (hopefully). Going back to the first point about conflict between head and heart, the key solution is to find balance (perhaps unsurprisingly). One way to do this is to weigh up the pros and cons for each of your options: for example if journalism is your thing but you think law would be a smarter financial option, find a double major in those subjects, or look for a ‘Media Law’ course.
If your options are a bit more extreme, say your heart is with anthropology and archeology, but you feel that investment banking is more desirable career- and money-wise, then try to find a balance between the two but also be completely HONEST with yourself. Why do you REALLY want to be an investment banker? Are you pursuing it for reasons that sit well with you?
Remember that ultimately, it is about working smart; nowadays most degrees are transferable and some employers often don’t mind that you obtained a degree in an unrelated subject, as long as you performed well and are willing to learn and be enthusiastic about the job. So don’t stress yourself out too much by thinking that you have to go one way or another. In most cases, both options are possible.
Finally, don’t forget that 1) experience, 2) experience, 3) experience, and also 4) some more experience, can make it much easier for you to decide where you feel most comfortable career/ degree/ lifestyle-wise. Experience can mean anything from taster sessions to long-term internships but the point is that you must expose yourself to places in which you see yourself. That is the only way you can truly know if you belong there.
I hope that made sense. If not, here’s an abridged version of the post: Don’t panic, be open minded, expose yourself to different experiences and go forth and conquer in the way that feels most natural to you!