In this day in age, it can be easy to feel like you will never reach the top of a career, hobby or degree. With above and beyond simply appearing as the status quo, kids can feel expected to have their whole life journey mapped out by eighteen.
These expectations can leave us wondering how we are going to plan our entire future. Besides, it’s a challenge of its own to just figure out what is for dinner that night. How are we supposed to pick a major that we love before our brains are fully developed?
Sage Journals published psychoanalyst Erik Homburger Erikson’s research article entitled “The Problem of Ego Identity”. In the article, Erikson discussed the process of identity formation. Erikson said that this process is lifelong.
As college students, we can feel like this “lifelong” process is wrapped up with a bow before we can even process what happened.
A competitive environment like the University of Miami can leave us feeling like we will never be good enough. It can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to those around you. Ryann Miller, a sophomore at UM majoring in marketing, describes the constant fear of not measuring up.
“It just feels like I could always be doing a little bit more,” Miller said. “When I compare my accomplishments with some of my peers’, it feels like I’m not doing enough.”
Hailey Scarantino, a second-year architecture student at UM, also finds herself drawing comparisons between herself and her peers. “It’s difficult because I compare myself to others, but then I have to take a step back and remind myself that they are at different places than I am and always will be,” Scarantino said.
Dr. Susan Biali Haas wrote an article for Psychology Today where she named some ways to help with comparing yourself to others. Haas said to remember that we often do not know what other people are going through inside. She reminded readers that outward appearances are not everything. Haas also said that it is established that money does not buy happiness. This might just help you next time you start comparing your peer’s career goal to your own.
Sometimes life does not make it easy to choose happiness if you find yourself unhappy with your eighteen-year-old choices. There really is no guarantee of success or satisfaction. Sophomore creative advertising major, Asha Shah explained some additional factors.
“If I wanted to change my major, I would probably have to start all over,” said Shah. “It would be a lot of money and time wasted.”
There does not seem to be a set formula for success or happiness. Some people might gain success by going to school for many years and becoming a doctor while others might go viral on TikTok overnight. What seems to help second-year architecture student, Will Perik, is simply staying present.
“I’ve realized that if you focus too hard on the past, it’s easy to get depressed, and if you focus too hard on the future, it’s easy to get anxious, so you should try to stay as present as possible,” Perik said. “Nothing’s guaranteed, and all I can do is focus on what I can do right now, and be relentless in those pursuits.”
With all that being said, growing up appears to be a competitive sport these days in which there are no rules, no coaches and definitely no time-outs. With staying present and remembering that we are all in the same boat, hopefully growing up feels a little less daunting.
words_pari walter photo_ben sweet on unsplash