The Big Question in College

My face is feeling fresh, all washed up and going through a facial. Korean face masks are incredibly hydrating and fulfills my need to stop worrying about dry skin all winter long.

The fun thing is, during a facial, you have up to 45 minutes of free time. The packets may state “10-20 minutes” of waiting until peeling the mask off your face. But in my experience, it’s quite hydrating when the face mask dries out because that means your face has absorbed all the elements of what the mask has to offer. I’m trying out Nature Republic’s olive one right now — I forget the actual name for it.

I don’t know if I am entirely correct about the elements of face masks. I don’t know if waiting 45 minutes is actually the correct thing to do. And well, I don’t know if my skin type necessarily needs hydrating.

But that’s the thing about all of our decisions, isn’t it? That we are prone to take chances even when we don’t know the answer to whatever question we are attempting to answer. I never spend that split second of decision-making drafting algorithms that will elicit the perfect answer. I’m sure most of you don’t, either.

As I am sitting with my face mask on, I run into a TEDx Talks video about a woman explaining how we can skip small talk and make instant connections with strangers.

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Kalina Silverman, founder of MakeBigTalk.com

The first eight minutes, I’m sitting on my bed listening to her describe her first two years at Northwestern University. It’s the usual, “I felt lonely then started making friends” and, “I feel empty inside” phrases that almost make me press pause. But then, Kalina mentions how she went through a mid-college crisis after finishing the first two years of college.

Girl, same.

She stated that many people would ask her what she wanted to do with her journalism degree. Most importantly, she wondered what she would be doing with her hard-earned, multi-thousand dollar college degree. She didn’t exactly say the latter, but I think we all know how expensive higher education is becoming in America.

The moment I assigned a question mark to my journalism degree was after my first official internship. I was assigned really good stories and some difficult ones. I felt like as an intern reporter, I had to live up to the expectation of being young, but at the same time I felt like I had to establish myself as an aspiring journalist — to prove myself as a writer. I know that the most dangerous enemy can be the “self,” and it was actually very difficult to stop myself from thinking of alternative degrees that could let me have fun while working. It’s not that I was not grateful for the internship — the internship is what actually led me to accumulate clips for professional use — I think I was feeling exhausted by the fact that in order to chase your dreams, you have to chase away the idea that you will love your first job.

Don’t worry, though, the doubt is long gone. I am still loving my double-degree in journalism and politics, especially because media relations and political affairs is a contested issue today. I also have a new Spring internship that I am head-over-heels for. I find myself lucky to be working there with so many great people. And now that I am listening to myself read this part over, I am realizing what Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said is true: “Many assume my business success has brought me happiness. But the way I see it, I am successful because I am happy.” I am happy not because I have found an internship that I love or because I’ve reconnected with my passion for journalism and politics. I am loving all my classes and my job because I have found happiness at this particular stage in my life.

This post does not offer an ultimate solution to the big question of what we’re all aiming for in life. It varies person to person, from all phases of life. I guess all I can offer is a post of solidarity, that we’re all experiencing the same doubts of what we want to do with our degrees. Some people know their paths and they are on their way to the career they’ve always wanted to end up with. Great for them! But we all share that same question: “What next?”

I don’t know what I’ll be doing next. What will I be doing? That’s the magic of today for me — that there is still a possibility to imagine the answer to our questions.

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