Just as my social media profiles bluntly assert, I am an individual aged 24 coming from Romania, I am very much into books and cultural products in general, like to travel a lot, but most importantly for networks and their critical mass and even for me when trying to position myself on a map of professional and personal evolution, I am a graduate student, a social scientist-to-be.
Generally, I am ambitious and self-motivated to do things well and to outperform myself, to learn fast and faster. I have always been in the top 5% of my class, but mostly as a result of conformity and self-discipline. I always, unconsciously, knew I have to get somewhere. Which is why I tend to compare myself with who I was at a certain point in my past and with others in order to keep a record of where I am on the road to …? And that precisely is my dilemma: on the road to what?
After obtaining a BA in Communication and PR I started to analyze what I had been doing those years and what was it that I wanted to do next. Once you graduate from university, people expect you to jump right into the market. It turned out the field simply did not suit me, for reasons it would take too long to enumerate here. I figured a large part of my problem would be solved if I could just find what I really liked. So I decided, based on my extra-curricular activity, the fact that I was always being recruited by professors to work on projects, as well as based on the role models I have that I want to be a researcher, preferably an academic one, in political science. I learned how to analyze and integrate social data, I went to conferences, got in touch with scientific communities, wrote a nice MA thesis, but to be able to, for example, find out the calculus of voting, it takes decades and you risk of ending up being mediocre. Anyway, embarking on that means I would have to get a PhD, start writing seriously and most importantly, publish! But like probably most things in life, I find out this is damn hard. Especially if your standard for achievement is so high not even your professors meet it. So go find other models and an educational system that can push you where you think you want to be pushed. But that means calculating chances of getting in a prestigious university, competing with other people who in your mind are much brighter than you, and leaving behind other intimate aspirations. That is where I am now, attempting to make a decision: either being nothing but a professional with all my engines on and what I call home – the people I love, my hobbies and a comfortable life in which I perform little less than expected.
In the meantime, I try to get around this using intermediate channels – voluntary work, internships – and building other types of experiences and relationships with work. But none of them are long term, so it is still me who has to decide eventually. No matter how adulthood will turn out, I hope my transition will be a worthy one, but as seen through my own eyes and not the lens of a society based on all sorts of criteria – status, money etc. My criteria at present is peacefulness of mind – a satisfactory balance between what I could have done and what I eventually did, with all compromises and regrets involved. Why aiming for that result? Because my mind wanders too much, I feel like I have to factor in all sorts of variables – personal aspirations, family background, societal context, opportunities, skills and experience I already accumulated and would not want to throw off the window for the UNKNOWN… and that for me is the sweetness and sourness of transition. But at a certain point in life what I want is to only keep the sweetness and let go of sourness.
Finally, I think this writing exercise is challenging because it requires introspection. Nonetheless, its effects can be highly rewarding because once you are done with it (the writing, that is, not the rest of it) you feel like you can officially begin to look for wonderful resources to help you learn how to make choices. I am here to do just that.
– UPDATE 1 year and a half later: I’m 26 and things look a little better. I realised I want to live in Cluj and I am no longer at crossroads… Managed to yank myself out of a lot of anxiety and smile a little more. My standards are a little more precious and I’m less competitive when it comes to meeting standards that I can’t really say are brewed within.