Finding comfort in the unknown
Class of 2017
(9/2015) What do you want to do when you graduate?"
I think as undergraduate students we know this question a little too well, and for everybody out there who faces this question so often, I think we should work together to come up with different conversation starters. I’m kidding… sort of.
But seriously, my real answer is simply, I don’t know. I am starting my junior year, I declared my major
a year ago, I have an all-but-guaranteed career in the Army, and that question still causes way more stress than it should because honestly, I am just not sure what I want to do when I graduate.
What I do know is that, as stressful as it seems, I know it is a true blessing that I am not sure. I know that the reason why I am so unsure is because of the incredible variety of influences in my life – people, trips, experiences that have given me a passion for so many different things.
The best teachers I have ever had have all been English teachers and my mom taught me to love reading more than I love almost anything – hence the English and Education major. My time in Haiti has given me an absolute passion for missionary work and people all around the world. My contract with the Army gives me a minimum of four years to serve in a
variety of fields before ever even needing to decide what my life will consist of.
My unparalleled desire for a law degree pushes me to apply for an Education Delay from the Army and go to law school. And finally, my indecisiveness leads me to the rambling nature of this article and my constant struggle in choosing a future career.
So back to the question, "what do I want to do when I graduate?" My typical answer is "I’m not sure yet," with a brief explanation, and the typical response is "well you have time," or "you have a lot of options," but the truth is that just does not ease my mind. There are still multiple careers that I am passionate about, multiple that pay well,
multiple that would require some serious fundraising, and multiple that seem like the right thing to do, but I would like to explain more as to why. Even though it might sound like I am complaining or you might realize how stressed I am, this is all a blessing in disguise, a very, very good disguise, I might add.
I have had the absolute privilege of being exposed to the most inspiring people I could ask for. I have had the opportunity to travel to other countries and experience a much larger world than I could have ever dreamed existed from the comfort of my small town. I have seen the real difference that a single person can make by simply doing their job and
engaging in what they love. I have been completely
torn apart at sights of devastation, only to realize that there are people placed in this world with the purpose of combatting all things poor and devastated. I have seen lives changed in a yearbook classroom, and minds opened in an English class. All in all, I have experience way more than I ever imagined I could in the short 20 years of my life and
there is actually a comfort in knowing I can continue
to experience just as much and not be pinned down by a single career my whole life.
I believe the single person whose life and story offers me the most comfort in the unknown is someone who I have never even met – Dr. Paul Farmer. I first read Dr. Farmer’s book Mountains Beyond Mountains this past Christmas and have read it three times since. Dr. Farmer lived and continues to live a life that embodies the mantra "go with the flow." He
is a medical anthropologist who serves an entire community in Haiti and is responsible for a revolution in the fight against TB around the world.
His works are incredible, but what makes him so inspiring to me is the way he has gone about everything in life. When he first went to Haiti and realized that this community needed help, he saw he would need a medical degree and so he got one. He then opened a clinic that changed the face of the dying community and when he was confronted with problem
after problem, he adjusted himself until he found the solution.
When he started his research on TB and realized how affected other parts of the world were, he began to commute from country to country in order to better face the problem. He did this with a constant humility and simple desire to serve. Throughout his career, he never had a long-term plan, he took every day as it came, and he faced each one with grace
and positivity, and he truly changed parts of this world forever.
I cannot be Dr. Paul Farmer for a lot of reasons: I would like to think the biggest reason is that I do not like blood, but that is probably not true. However, I can take his life and use it as a model for my own in different ways. I realize that my heart is already in multiple parts of this world and whether I will use a law degree, a teaching
certificate, or a military career to do what I love, I know I will find a way to do it.
So, I still do not have an answer for the infamous "What do you want to do when you graduate?" question. Although that is scary and stressful and will probably cause a lot of tears over the next few years, I do know that there is an exhilarating and rewarding element to the unknown that I cannot wait to explore. Through the guidance of people, both in
my personal life and those I can only read about, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that uncertainty is pretty common. I would not trade the passion
I have for so many things for a definite career plan, but I will probably still look pretty nervous every time I am asked about my life plan.
Read other articles by Leeanne Leary