A version of this was originally published by Jonny O’Mahony on Medium.
Really Though, What Are Plans?
I’ll start this by saying that I have all the plans in the world. I like to think I know where I want my life to go, I like to think that if I continue down the path that I’ve set myself on now, I will accomplish at least some of the goals that I’ve set myself in the past few years. Already, I’ve realised a number of them, such as getting my eating and weight under control (5 stone down lads, shout out to calorie counting and low fat cheese).
I’ve also improved in terms of college drastically, I no longer skip lectures, I write up my notes after every lecture, and I actively work towards getting the best possible result I can achieve. However, despite achieving these various things, I still can’t help but feel that my life is spiralling out of control to a certain extent. Within a year I will (hopefully) be graduated with a solid degree in computer science, and will be out into the big bad world. The thing is, I’m not sure if I’m ready for that, or if that’s even something I think I would be able to deal with.
“Shout out to calorie counting and low fat cheese”
For the longest time, I told myself that I wanted to do a masters, that I should continue my learning while I’m still young, get myself educated and employable now, before it’s too late, and I’m old, decrepit and too lazy to force myself to come back to college. However, with a disgustingly large loan hanging over my head, that is looking more and more like an option that I just can’t take. The more I think about it as well, the more I realise that I just wanted to move to Edinburgh, and the degree came in a secondary capacity to moving to the city that I’ve sort of turned into Tír na nÓg for myself. The funniest thing is, it definitely isn’t Tír na nÓg. That then leads me to question that maybe I’m just running from something. I recently moved to Germany, and before going, I could not wait.
All I wanted to do was to get out there, and begin my new life full of possibilities. However, after only a couple of months there, I wanted to come back, dying to restart my old life, full of new possibilities now that I was a cultured traveller.
These realisations bring me to realise that maybe all of my goals really have me just searching for the greenest grass. I’m never really satisfied with the grass that I have, and I always think that the grass around the corner, or in a different field will be better or more advantageous for me. For example, some people in my class were recently offered positions with some of the biggest companies in the world after their work placements, with excellent starting salaries and bonuses. Having heard about this, it stirred a sense of panic and stress in me: “What if I never get an opportunity like the one they are now receiving”; “What if I’ll never be good enough to match their obvious talents and qualities that drew this company to hiring them”; “Should I start applying for graduate positions now?”.
Instead of being happy with waiting and watching to see the opportunities that may or may not become available to me after I finish this year, I automatically felt that I am not doing well enough, and should actively strive to counter this. I don’t know if that’s something a lot of people go through, but I think it probably is, and it confuses me.
As students, we are put under a lot of pressure to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. From the Leaving Certificate and on, we are often expected to know what we want, picking a course that may have a large impact on the career path we choose. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more a fact of the system that we exist in and work around, but it can lead to a person feeling like they’re suddenly doing something they never really expected.
For me, I actually love computer science, I don’t personally think I’m very good at it (thanks a million Imposter Syndrome, you’re oh too kind), but I work as hard as I can, and I know that if I can get a job in the field where I actually work, I will enjoy it. At the same time though, I look at the people that I am best friends with, and will be competing with for jobs, and I get a mild sense of panic. I am definitely not as good as them, they live, breathe and sleep computer science, whereas I am just very interested, and would like to have a career in a topic I enjoy.
Everybody knows the people in their course that they can look at and say “That person there, they’re going to do pretty amazing things in this field”. That is absolutely not me, and, if we’re being honest, it’s not the majority of people. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. There are always outliers, and for most people, they don’t have to interact with these outliers, these people that it’s clear they’re going to do brilliant things, and that the world will benefit positively from their very existence. I have to deal with the fact that most of my friends are these outliers, these exceptional people that continue to astound and succeed, and I’m sitting here, an average guy, and I can’t help but compare myself to these people.
“No more Coke Bikes for me!”
Graduating is both terrifying and exciting to me, terrifying, because I will be leaving the warm, fuzzy embrace of college, minding me and making sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Exciting because, I don’t know, I’ll hopefully be able to afford a decent bike? No more Coke Bikes for me! College years are definitely some of the best years of our lives, and we should take full advantage of them, going out, meeting new people, making the effort to grow into ourselves.
Coming full circle, I recently realised that my search for the greener grass isn’t a bad thing. It just means that I am going to continually strive to better my surroundings for myself, for my friends, and actively work towards doing something good. Now, I have genuinely no idea what that will involve, hopefully all of my current interests will be able to feature there, but if they don’t, that isn’t really that bad of a thing either. I won’t be doing it if I don’t like it.