Monday, July 22, 2013

You can't pick a future.

There are those times in life when you are given an experience that changes your life, turns your world upside down and rocks it. I have been lucky enough to experience that a few times in my life, the first being at the University of Haifa.

Originally, I didn't even want to study abroad in the Middle East, I wanted to go somewhere like China or Australia. Israel? Not on my top 10 to say the least. I don't know exactly what it was, or how it happened but I fell madly, deeply, inexplicably in love with the Middle East. The more I saw, the more I was sucked in. The language enthralled me: the deep guttural tones with spinning notes of the oud interspersed throughout my day.  For the last five years, I haven't ceased. I have literally been in the Middle East every year since 2008, and have yet to stop. Sometimes, I find myself asking what the heck I am doing with my life. Grad school? Knowledge? Adventure?

Of course the existentialist in me revels in these deep questions of life direction, but living life one day at a time forces you to shove those questions to the top theoretical shelf and leave it for later. As a graduate student, and perhaps even more as an undergrad, I asked myself what I want to do and how can I get there? How can I plan my future? I can't count the number of times I have been asked  "Why the Middle East?" or "what do you want to do after grad school?" These questions, unfortunately, pluck you and your avoidance back into the fast-paced reality where life forces you to choose a dream, choose a field, choose a future. Choose your path.

Well, I for one, am going on strike. I deeply believe that life nudges you into new paths and that with a little effort and a whole lot of courage, you will get where you need to go. One day, I would love to make a difference in our foreign policy. Most people like to suggest to me that it is absolutely critical that I a) go to an ivy league or b)go to law school. My response is this: no one who ever changed the world did things the normal way.

So why I am ranting at midnight on a Monday in Jerusalem? To encourage the college students out there, those wandering aimlessly, or unhappy in what they do, to do some soul searching and figure out what they really like to do, when no one else is watching (besides facebook!) Last year I made it my personal mission to take myself out on weekend or day trips, go to a new place by myself, explore, meet people and learn about myself. It's easier to do or be what everyone else wants. Would it be easier if I just went to law school and got a job at a firm? I'm sure it would, it would fit much more neatly into the little life most people dream for themselves. But I made the choice to take the path with the unknown end, trusting that life will push me forward.

So don't pick a future. Pick yourself. If you don't, know one else will. 

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