As young people in 21st century America, many of us are given a script to follow at birth, prescribed to us by those who care most about us — our parents. It’s safe to say that those who receive the means and guidance to follow this script are the lucky ones: it means we have people who care about us enough to guide us, the ability to follow the “safest course” and that we’ll be set up for some level of success.
You know the script; “get good grades in secondary school, get into a good university, succeed academically at that school, enjoy the social virtues that the environment provides and then hunt for a stable job that you can grow from within.”
And there’s nothing wrong with following this common script. It can lead to fulfilling success, stability and contentment.
However, there are still many students who live in a world of insecurity because they crave something that does not exist within the parameters prescribed to them by those who have set expectations upon them, those who care about them.
I wrote this to be a voice of assurance for those who have the urge to explore beyond what they’ve been told they’re “supposed to do.”
When you’re young, particularly when you’re in college, you’re granted a particular amount of freedom that you have not experienced before. It’s a limbo between “the real world” and the coddled reality that we’re blessed to exist in with the confines of youth.
Over the summer of 2020, mid-pandemic, I was given the opportunity to launch a mental performance beverage brand with a pharmaceutical scientist and his son, a former colleague of mine. This opportunity has turned into one that has completely engulfed my life.
I spend every waking moment thinking about what we need to be doing to grow our revenue, improve our web presence and build the brand.
At the same time, I miss out on much of what is prescribed in the college experience. I miss parties, nature adventures with friends and even the little things like enjoying a meal in IC Square alongside the chatter that is a college community.
It’s an opportunity with so much potential upside and very little fallback should things not work out as expected. Still, it requires great sacrifice.
What’s interesting is that the rhetoric I hear from my parents, friends and advisors is in stark contrast to what I expected. Everyone tells me to “slow down, and enjoy the college experience.”
For me, this is enjoying the college experience. It’s taking a personal risk while there is little blowback and intermingling that professional experience with my area of study at Ithaca College.
So if there’s one student out there reading this who worries about “missing out” on the prescribed college experience by following an ambitious goal, keep this in mind: life is shorter than you expect. Explore the unexplored and never confine yourself to the prescribed script set forth by others simply because it appears safe.
This opportunity for risk should not be seen by college students as a chance to remain in a realm of comfortability by sticking to the script, but instead should be promoted as a chance to unleash their boldest potential.