College Idealism and Real Life

15 10 2011

Yesterday afternoon Yair and I stopped by the University of Oregon for an a capella show.  The performances were wonderful and the energy of being on a college campus was contagious.





The visit got me thinking about the environment of hope and optimism that surrounded me during my undergraduate experience, and the energy-infused “we can do anything” approach of my go-getter International Relations crew at Johns Hopkins.  We were going to do big things and change the world for the better.  We weren’t going to wait until graduation to get started, so we jumped in by founding organizations like Vision Xchange.  I was psyched to graduate a year early in order to embrace the world and make my mark.

But I soon discovered that most jobs were monotonous or tedious or worked you way too many hours or involved a grinding commute (cough, Deloitte, cough). Finding a cause to be passionate about is easy, but it’s much harder to find a position where the day to day is more-often-than-not fulfilling.  For example, earlier this week, I started volunteering at Goodwill’s Prosperity Center.  I tweaked a few resumes but spent most of my day researching job openings, printing out the postings and categorizing them by industry.  I understand the direct impact that this could have in enabling people to find jobs, but what a tedious thing to do!

Job Board at GoodWill's Prosperity Center

Job Board at Goodwill's Prosperity Center

Neither of these opportunities are the right long-term fit for me and I might be better suited for directing a place like the prosperity center, but I wonder if jobs exist that are actually exciting, enjoyable on a day-to-day basis and would allow me to “do big things and change the world for the better”.

…Or was that just an illusion that we dreamt up?

posted by ayo

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8 responses

15 10 2011
frugalveganmom

Hmmm….I think they are two separate things. I don’t think it’s really possible to do something big and exciting every day to change the world for the better. And you can have a non-tedious job that doesn’t change the world at all….

Or you could have a really tedious job but work with awesome people and still like it….

There are so many unique situations I think you just have to keep looking until you find something that suits you – or maybe be involved in several things at once? If I know you at all, you won’t settle =)

18 10 2011
ayo

Thanks for the love, Kelly. I’ve found that the people at the job make a TREMENDOUS impact on your work experience.

There are lots of exciting things that I could do that don’t change the world (like living on another resort!), but those things don’t speak to me now. I want to turn my eye to social service and humanitarian causes. Nailing the magic trifecta (exciting, meaningful, good people) may take work, but I’ll keep chugging at it! 🙂

16 10 2011
roamingbarbara

I think most people just plod along in life, doing what needs to be done, but not inspired. But I truly believe that you will find something that fits your unique personality and goals. Never give up!

18 10 2011
ayo

Chizuk is a Hebrew / Jewish word for strengthening and verbally or otherwise giving people the strength what they need to do.

Thanks for the chizuk, Barbara! 🙂

17 10 2011
Josh

Also, if people graduate with debt (as many do) they may not have the luxury of following their dreams, if those dreams dont pay the bills.

18 10 2011
ayo

You’re right. So obvious, but I had totally forgotten about that. Thanks for pointing it out.

20 10 2011
libertatemamo

I think we can all contribute in our own way. All my years in research and working has been ~1% inspiration and 99% perspiration…it’s just the way of things. It takes alot of plodding and sometimes tedium to get to that final result. But achieving that 1%, even if it takes many years can be very, very fulfilling. In the meantime it’s all about the people you work with, where you are and how you’re managing the journey. So, I think (and believe) dreams are possible, but you just got to be ready to get stuck in and do some plodding inbetween. Don’t give up 🙂
Nina

12 11 2011
ayo

Agreed and good thoughts, though I sometimes wonder if I can direct and outsource maybe 75% of that 99% to someone more apt to deal with the tedium! 😀

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