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Monday, February 26, 2024

The Philosophy of Education: Be yourself

We all begin our lives as unmolded clay, open to all experiences and beliefs. As we grow, we are molded by those around us, most often by our parents. We take on their beliefs, biases and ambitions. These may take the form of desires we believe are ours but are really someone else’s, such as the desire to go to medical school. We are domesticated from free, happy children to adults set in our ways and careers. In order to return to a free, happy state, we must do what we love, not follow others’ ambitions.

Many of us students came to the university with a desired career or major to follow. But how many of us have examined that desire carefully? The only way to do so is to look within and ask ourselves honestly, without fear or guilt, why we feel our drives and desires for a career.

Is it because that path is our passion? If so, that is the path we should follow. Or is it because we have been told to follow that path so many times that we internalize it as our own desire? Or do we follow that path because we are afraid to disappoint others, such as our parents?

Once we realize, through introspection, that the path we are following is not our real calling, we can first find our real passion and then follow it. To find our passion, we must seek out new experiences with an open, humble mind, whether through internships or classes.

Our true passion is in the field where we wake up and think, “I get to go to class/work today,” instead of “I have to go to class/work today.” We are lucky to be university students, as we are not yet bound to a career path; it is not too late to change.

Many of us fail to change and continue to follow others’ ambitions — such as becoming doctors because our parents want us to — even though that is not our passion. If we do so, we will be the ones going to work as doctors every day, not our parents.

By doing so, we would merely be acting as extensions, mere puppets, of our parents; we would be powerless, helpless full-grown babies, and would likely be deeply unhappy with our lives.

We fail to realize that this unhappiness due to not doing what we love will make others around us unhappy, which is the greatest disappointment to those that support and love us. Our parents desire the best for us, but often do not know how to help us.

We must take a stand for ourselves, defy the dogma around us, and do what we love. The longer we wait and put off following our true passions instead of following the desires of others, the harder it becomes to switch roads as we commit ourselves more and more.

Unfortunately, we often continue to follow others’ ambitions due to fears such as that leaping into the unknown is impossible, that we will fail, or that our parents and/or friends will abandon us. While people may leave us when we change, new people will come into our lives.

Truer friends will come when we follow our passions, as those friendships will be based on who we really are, not who we pretend to be. In addition, nothing we have learned will go to waste; instead, it will set us apart in our new field as useful knowledge others do not have.

However, nothing can replace or substitute for the happiness and peace of mind that comes from following our true callings.

If you wish to share your experiences with parental pressure with WILLIAM CONNER email him at wrconner@ucdavis.edu.

 

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