For the last, oh I don't know, 10 years of my life, I've been annoyed by the kids around me with elaborate life goals that almost sound like prophesies that they are determined to fulfill.
...what the hell?
How did they possibly know what they wanted to do so early in their life? I was madly jealous of them. I still am. I go to MIT - some of these kids have been dreaming of chopping up bacterial plasmids for the last decade of their lives!
But I stumbled upon (not literally) this New York Times article by a man who is now a professor at Georgetown in computer science and he claims that things like passion comes from investing time into a particular project or activity. No one has to know what they want exactly, but choose something and go with it and don't look back. It's unrealistic to choose something and be disappointed with it because you don't feel like it's your life calling. If you stick with something and invest enough of your time into it, you'll grow to care about it and love what you do, even if it's know according to your original plan.
Check out these beautiful words over here.
I think that applied pretty well to my life so far. MIT was not the school I thought I would end up in, and yet by senior fall of high school, it was my top choice. Engineering was not something I considered as a major until I started thinking more about MIT. (I was going to be pre-law!) And I didn't know what I would be invested in during my time here so far. Now I'm involved in quantum dot solar cell research and just gave a poster presentation on it. People came up to me and thought I was a senior. (I laughed really loudly which probably made them uncomfortable. My bad.)
So I'm not sure if the whole solar energy thing is going to work with my degree in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. When everyone's trying to find the next hottest job (Google, QualComm, Intel, Microsoft...) and I'm looking at the less-publicized startups and consulting companies in alternative energy, I definitely feel like I'm taken the unbeaten path.
Where will this lead? I sure as hell do not know.
Will I regret not delving into a hotter field where there is more money? I've learned not to regret decisions I've made. It's so bitter and frankly, you feel like shit. Choose a direction you like and never look back. There's going to be rough patches in any path you take, and the grass is probably not much greener on the other side.
The other day, I saw a sticky that my friend had on her desk:
"Determination is knowing what you want."
For me, I don't know what I want yet, but I know I want to work hard and make the most of MIT. There's a certain law I follow in my head. [It's a law so I don't ever think about disproving it.]
1. If I want x, I expect to get it.
2. If I expect to get x, then I will work as hard as I can to get it.
3. I will get x.
There's also a law regarding MIT that I follow to suppress any doubts that what I'm doing is not severe masochism but simple self-discipline:
I can handle anything post-graduation if it is not as bad as what I've endured during my 4 (or 5) years at MIT.
A follow-up to that is: The harder the experience at MIT is for me, the more I can endure and survive in the real world.
Now, I don't know how naive or maybe simply stupid those laws are. But if you're an MIT beaver who has floated away from the MIT bubble, I request that you allow me to incubate in the MIT bubble for the entirety of my time here. My sanity and determination thank you.