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SMOLDER: Aimlessness cannot inhibit our ambitions

Column: Breaker of Chains

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how my own life has been evolving. 

I can still remember sitting in my room in high school. I would have my pencil out in my right hand, and I would perpetually tap the desk in front of me. I would hear the nonstop tapping of my pencil eraser as I thought about what I wanted my life to look like in years to come. 

When I was younger, all I wanted to be was a teacher, then a video game developer, then a filmmaker, then an engineer and then an entrepreneur. Ever since my first year of high school, I have felt like there has always been a sense of uncertainty about what I perceive the future me to look like. Of course, that can be said for most people, and I, too, definitely feel this emotion at the current point in my life. 

Being an engineer is much more straightforward than starting a company, and this fact has always lingered in the back of my mind. I bring this up to point to the fact that I have no clear idea of where my life is heading. 

Normally, this sense of directed pointlessness would make me feel very uneasy, but for some reason, I have felt especially calm recently about it. I think that I am at a point in my career were more important than learning anything, I am looking for inspiration anywhere I can get it, even though I have not found any recently. 

I feel like, to a degree (no pun intended), I am kind of just existing and waiting for something to strike. 

The point I am trying to make is that this directed pointlessness, although it creates great uncertainty, is almost necessary for a future of any sort that I truly desire. I think it is vital that people trust themselves more than ever when going through this, because one must remember it is only themselves that got them there. 

Although I have no idea where my story will conclude, I hope something will happen, some inspiration will occur, I will meet people I want to create something special with and my ideas can one day flourish. 

I want to be clear that it is not that I feel unproductive — in fact quite the contrary, I feel extremely productive recently — it is just that I know my true aspirations for the future lie outside the classroom. I find myself thirsty for a random act of inspiration more than anything else. 

Similar to how the Wright brothers observed a bird flying, and therefore modeled the wings of the first airplane off of the angle of the observed bird’s wings, I too am waiting for my bird to fly over my head. 

Many people in college feel a sense of aimlessness. I think, rather than quickly committing to a career due to a fear of being aimless for too long, it is vital to trust oneself and wait it out. How many potential ideas are lost in the shuffle of pressure to commit to careers people do not care for?

This exact problem is one reason I think many people try to minimize risk. With risk comes the great potential for failure and great potential to have to endure the endless wait cycle. I believe it is sad that this safe-playing attitude has ingrained itself in our society. It is necessary to endure the aimless so that one day any idea can change the world we live in. 

It is funny because, in a way, nothing has changed in my life going from high school to college. I still sit there in my chair in my residence hall room. I tap with my pencil on my desk, the tapping acting like a never-ending clock with me waiting for something — I do not even know what — to occur. 

My story has the real possibility to end in failure of the pursuits I truly desire. At least I will move on with my life knowing that I wandered for a bit to truly try to get to a place I felt was right. 

In the famous words of David Bowie, “Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do." 

Zachary Smolder is a School of Engineering freshman, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. His column, "Breaker of Chains," runs on alternate Thursday.


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