The Perks of Being Yourself

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There’s an intense satisfaction when an activity, class or hobby just clicks with you. That spark of pure enjoyment that sets ablaze a feeling that this is exactly what you should be doing, that sense that you happened upon the best possible route in life, if only for this moment. It’s a deeply-rooted, innate, almost primal enjoyment of something. And it’s a sensation you should absolutely experience in college.

College is a time of personal discovery, both in and out of the classroom. You’re figuring out who you are, refining the sense of self you began cultivating in high school and learning what you love in life. As such, you should be pursuing the activities you enjoy most: your passions.

You’re going to take many classes to fulfill requirements in some capacity or another, but you’ll also have those classes–or even just moments within a major-related course–that make you stop and think Yes. This is what I love.

In a life with infinitely branching possibilities for your future, it’s these moments that can reaffirm the decisions that brought you to that class or that major. Whether or not you believe the idea that everything happens for a reason, it’s moments like these that inspire the sentiment.

This is true of your hobbies and other non-academic pursuits as well. In fact, it should probably be happening more often in these settings. If you enjoy gaming, you’ll have those moments playing when you feel that deep, intense immersion and contentment with the game. If you’re a music lover, you’ll have that moment during a song, at a concert or while listening on Spotify where your heart simply wants to leap out of your chest and you can’t help but sing along and dance. If you love constructing robots, you’ll have a moment when you finally get your creation to cooperate and you can’t help but pump your fist in the air.

If you haven’t experienced this, then you perhaps should reconsider your pursuits. I’m not saying this sensation is something you should be constantly experiencing. (That would be, quite frankly, extraordinarily exhausting.)

I’m merely suggesting that if you’re a couple years into college and you haven’t had the moment of zealous satisfaction inside or outside of academics, then maybe you should re-examine your motivations in your pursuits. If your interest in a field or hobby is purely based on the money or reputation gained from it, then you may be in it for the wrong reasons.

Consider what you do to relieve stress. For me, it’s writing, watching movies and playing video games. When I came to college I was considering an astrophysics major; I thought it made me sound smart and seemed like it would be a financially sound decision. I found myself extremely stressed, however, as I tried to succeed in classes.

In order to take my mind off the stress, I started writing short fiction in my free time. It took me halfway into my second semester to realize that this deep enjoyment of creative writing meant I should switch my major. If I needed an even lower-intensity activity to relieve stress, I would flop on the couch and watch some TV or a movie. I soon realized that this love for visual media could easily be a second major.

So, if you’ve spent a few years in college and you have yet to have that overwhelming sense of contentment, it may be time to start experimenting. Play around with a variety of interests until you find the one that clicks with you. Explore the myriad of possibilities available to you and don’t stop until you’ve found your passion.

Heck, don’t even stop then. Nobody ever said you could only have one passion, after all.

Michael is a senior studying Creative Writing and Film/Television at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Aside from a passion for writing, film, and television, Michael enjoys his hobbies of cooking and ultimate Frisbee. In the future he hopes to combine his passions for writing and mass media to write reviews and maybe even a screenplay or two.

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