Know Thyself

Knowing yourself is crucial to self improvement and success in life, or so they say. If you don’t know yourself, then you do not know what you want and where you want to go in life. Many people are accused of not knowing exactly what they want when they seek new experiences, new jobs, new relationships. It may sound like an obvious question, but how do you figure out what you want without trying it out first?

I think it’s impossible to know what you want early in life, and a solid self-concept i only formed with age and experience. However, these days, university students and even high school students are expected to know exactly what they see themselves doing in 10 years. Granted, there is probably a small percentage of such teenagers who have been exposed to professions or subjects that they are dead-set¬†on, and can’t imagine their life without. However, I believe that those few people got extremely lucky. They were lucky to be immersed in an environment that allowed them to figure out their ambitions so early on. In fact, the same can be said about people who know exactly what they want in a relationship or a job — maybe their earlier relationships gave them what they wanted (even if they didn’t know it at the time), so they never had to go through the process of figuring it out by being in a¬†completely wrong relationship.

That being said, many of us, despite having a general idea about our goals in life, are riddled with uncertainty. I, for instance, know that I love psychology. I also know that I want to work with robots and be part of the team that is the first to see singularity occur. I know I want a job that will allow me to travel. But I didn’t reach these goals without changing my previous goals. I started out with an interest in cytology, which led to an interest in general biology. Then, I “discovered” psychology — meaning I randomly chose it for the last 2 years of high school in the IB program — and finally moved on to cognitive science and neuroscience. I am now double majoring in psychology and neuroscience, and I couldn’t be happier (even though people think it’s a strange approach if my end goal is robotics). However, I don’t think I’d be able to study cytology or even general biology with the same energy and motivation that I have for my majors. Hence, even though I know exactly what I’m passionate about, it wasn’t the same a few years ago, and my concern lies in the uncertainty of changing passions in the future.

I guess my point is — again, at the risk of sounding painfully obvious — that I only know myself in the present. Although I know exactly what I want right now, and I know exactly what I’m working towards, I can’t say for sure what I want in life because that may change tomorrow, or in a few years. With every change in interest, my passion for this novel field of interest only grows. It doesn’t matter if I have the answer to the question that first interests me about a particular field, but with each change, the questions get more specific and require more relevant knowledge. Do you ever reach a point where you’re so passionate about something that nothing else interests you? Or is life meant to have a series of passions that you try to fulfill before moving on to something else?