Okay, time’s up! Got an answer? Well, if you do, then you’re doing much better than I am, because I have no idea. Figuring out what I want to do with my life is like trying to make out what’s playing on my grandma’s old antenna television during a blackout; it’s very fuzzy and constantly changing. Since I find it almost impossible to answer this question, I tend to avoid thinking about it. However, as I climb the ranks of upperclassmen-hood, that gets harder to do, since everyone wants to know what I have planned for the future.
As I said before, I do everything humanely possible to not dwell on the fact that I have no clue what I’m going to do in life, but every once in a while the question creeps up on me, and I’m stuck struggling to find a suitable response. It started off with a meeting with John Prendergast. If you don’t know who this man is, you must Google him right now. I’m serious. Stop reading and look up all the remarkable stuff he’s done…finished? Good. Isn’t he impressive? As the co-founder of the Enough Project, he completely reinvents the concept of human rights activism, partnering with celebrities to bring attention to atrocities happening in African countries like the Congo. He’s just one of the coolest guys ever. How do I know this? Because I had the fortune of not just meeting him, but actually having a conversation with him about life, social service and Ryan Gosling (apparently the two are about to write a book together.)
During my little talk with John (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis), he asked me that question. I paused, feeling like any answer would seem inadequate in the eyes of a man who managed to help end the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Eventually I said that one of my many goals is to work in foreign countries reporting on issues surrounding women and children. However, that answer really didn’t feel like it encapsulated my true calling in life.
Being the quick-witted girl I am, I turned the question back on John, asking how he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. He laughed and told me that when he was younger he was just as lost as I was. He continued by saying it was a time-tested cliché that got him to where he is now: he followed his passion. At this point, I just nodded my head and went “uh huh” like that made perfect sense, but all the while I was thinking, what do you do if you don’t know what your “passion” is? Thankfully, he broke it down for me further by saying he just did things that made him happy. In his younger years, he didn’t always make sense to his friends and family, and he didn’t always make the smartest decisions, but he did what felt right. He had some ups and downs, some twists and turns, but now John’s doing exactly what he wants to be doing and making a huge difference in thousands of lives.
Thus, I started to think about what makes me happy. There’s a lot to choose from (eating and sleeping are at the top of the list), but honestly…I love making people feel great. I know it’s cheesy, but I thoroughly enjoy giving pep talks. I’m not gonna lie, I think – no, I know – I’m pretty fly. Therefore, I think it’s crucial that everyone around me feels just as fly as me. When it comes to helping someone else, I have (almost) no shame. My friends make fun of me all the time for saying some pretty outlandish things to make them see themselves the way I see do.
After John finished telling me about his incredible life, he encouraged me to do what he did. Not so much saving African babies (though I totally would), but more like doing whatever rocks my world. When I mentioned this nifty column, he implored me to use this space to write about things that matter to me. He helped me realize that there are so many ways that I can make a positive impact, and this can be one of them.
If I’ve made you laugh, made you think or made you smile then I’ve done my job, and that makes me feel amazing.
Hmmm, maybe I do have a passion after all.
Want to let Camira know that she’s rocked your world? Then email her at camirap “at” stanford “dot” edu.