Alternative Paths by Jonathan Fields
I LOVE this prompt. Thankfully I learned this lesson awhile ago, but it's not an easy one to hang onto because "the world buzzes about goals and visions." It is really tough to respond to the questions about your goals, visions, dreams, one-five-10-year plans with, "I know I want to do this, but I'm staying open to possibilities and opportunities that come along." People just don't comprehend that; they want a solid plan.
In college, I was very one-track-minded. I was a journalism major, and anything that did not contribute to that goal was not worth my time. I carefully selected courses that would make me a better writer and thinker. I read all the time. I knew what I wanted to be: a newspaper reporter. Why should I entertain anything else? In college that is a HUGE mistake, and I partly blame my father for insisting that I declare a major as an incoming freshman. I wish I had the guts to explore other majors or careers. I wish I had taken a couple of random courses that had nothing to do with journalism or media. I missed those opportunities that may have been.
Guess what? I have not worked a day of my life as a full-time staff newspaper reporter. Never. Instead my career looks like a Venn diagram with newspaper reporter in the middle; I just dance around in the bubbles on the outskirts. It has been a learning experience for sure, and the most important lesson I have taken away? Remain open to what may come. Don't block anything out. Even if you don't love it, you will learn something. It's all about the journey, right?
Now I don't mind telling friends and family that I'm not really sure where I'm going; I'm along for the ride. I think most of them get that about me. It's still really hard, though, to fend off the questions at work -- in the professional setting. I'm not an easy employee to manage when you are trying to set my goals for the upcoming year, and I really don't have a five-year plan for myself. So, I take what comes; I try new things. This year is the perfect example: I have taken on an objective that is pretty far out there from anything I saw myself doing, but I think I am going to learn a lot. That's what it's all about, right?
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