I am a prime example of someone who has chosen the practical path. I chose a practical major for my bachelor degree, one that would pretty much guarantee I would get a job shortly after graduating. My mom offered to have me stay at the dorms my freshman year of college so I can gain the experience but given we lived only about 4 miles from campus, I chose not to. Rather than do a summer abroad for a class that would count towards my GPA but was not really needed for my degree, I chose instead to do an internship within the US. Instead of taking time off after graduating to travel and explore the world, I started looking for jobs and accepted an offer not too long after I graduated. I decided I didn’t want to pay rent so I lived at my parents’ house after college and saved up for my own property, sacrificing the freedom that is so greatly desired by kids* at that age. After I bought my own condo, I was so depleted financially that I didn’t go out too much, didn’t even own a TV, and I had to be careful of my extraneous purchases.
Worried parents applaud my decisions and use me as an example for their kids who choose a non-practical major such as art or English, or those who don’t bother with college at all.
Nomads and world-travelers look at me and shake their heads, thinking that I am missing out on so many life experiences by living in a world of practicality.
Those who really know me and have been in my life for a long time know better.
The truth is, I chose the practical path because it coincided with what I really wanted. I chose my major because I found it interesting. I chose to take those internships instead of studying abroad because my future career meant more to me than the study abroad experience. I chose to take a job shortly after because I wanted stability more than I was willing to risk being stuck in a different country if I couldn’t find a job. I chose to purchase my own property because I wanted the sense of pride associated with home ownership and knowing I worked hard for it more than I wanted the immediate freedom shortly after graduation and experiencing “going out” and such.
Was I sad that I missed out? Of course. I don’t doubt that I would have had a lot of fun and gained life experiences had I chosen otherwise. But I still don’t regret my decisions and I wouldn’t change them even if I could. Because while taking chances earlier on in my life would’ve taught me things that took me longer to learn such as how traveling is so worth it despite the cost, the downside is it would’ve taken me longer to build the foundation I have today.
There are so many articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos telling you to take that risk because the reward is worth it.
“Don’t be afraid!”
“Follow your dreams!”
I love the message behind these. Really, I do. But I think it tends to make most people feel like a failure. Like, damn, why aren’t I traveling the world, starting my own business, and living a life of perceived poverty until I break success and then turn into a billionaire?
Don’t get me wrong. I do not disagree with the messages behind these. I instead would like to offer that rather than jumping straight to taking chances and following your dreams, first ask yourself if you really want it. Think about all the things you want aside from the dream of becoming a rock star, let’s say. Like, having stability in your life, knowing when your next paycheck is going to come and knowing you will be able to afford the next meal. If the answer is still, nope, I want to be a rock star more than I want those other practical things, then go for it. If not, there isn’t anything wrong with that. Sure, no one looks at the person who has chosen the practical path and goes, I really admire you and I want to be just like you some day. But honestly, who cares? You went after what you really wanted and you’re going to be much happier for it.
As for me, I’m totally ok with being the Queen of Practicality.
*I say kids like I’m so much older but I’m really not. It just seems that way since a lot has happened since then.