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When Plans Go Wrong

Quote of the day:
"Sometimes on our way to our dreams, we get lost and find a better one." - Unknown

When Plans Go Wrong

Oh! The wonders of Junior year! Kids all across the nation from the class of 2018 are stressing over SAT scores, ACTs, NMSQTs, IB classes and harder APs. The homework piles in and GPA is now more decisive than it had ever been. The words of the adults pile in on the subconscious mind of stressed out teenagers. They play over and over in the back of their heads, like this: 

"You're not an underclassman anymore, huh?"

"Better get those SAT scores in before Senior year!"

"So... How many IB/AP classes do you plan to have?"

"Keep that GPA in check!"

"Where are you planning to go to college?"

"Graduation is so close!"

And finally, the most stressful question for a Junior that has too many interests and no idea what to do with them:

"What do you plan to major in?"

While this is something that happens a lot to Seniors as well, by the end of Senior year, things are a bit more definite and at least you have a rough idea of where you're going. However, as a Junior, I've found myself starting to get an overwhelming pressure to have it all figured out. Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be? Where is my life going? The scariest part of all is the surprised/ disappointed  faces of strangers and adults the moment you say "I don't know."

I once had it all figured out, and if you were to ask me last year all of these questions, I would have a definite answer and say: "I want to be a pediatric neurosurgeon." However, I have had the opportunity to have some of the most amazing teachers in school, and really interesting classes that have led me to change my mind, over, and over again. But, the sad part is that we live in a world where there is constant pressure to be prepared and have it all figured out. I've found myself in constant fear of changing my mind, because I've always had the mind set that this is dangerous. 

On Friday, our guest speaker, Professor Noori, talked to us about his career as a Sociologist. He talked to us about war and conflicts in the middle east, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We learned about cultural tensions in the region, about college there, and how he decided to be a Sociologist. All of his research and historical facts were simply amazing, but I think that the best part of his talk was the fact that he said nothing was set in stone; he didn't even know he would become a Sociologist until he decided to take a random trip to Uzbekistan in the middle of college. It showed me that it is okay to take a risk, to change your mind, and see where it takes you. 

The truth is that you may think that you have things all figured out, even in later stages of your life. Yet, something may come along and change your entire world view, whether it be traveling, war, a new class or teacher that blows your mind, or even simply bumping into a random stranger on the street. In fact, 50% to 70% of college students will change their major by the time they graduate, and most will change it on average three times. And then, after college there are millions of things that you are expected to know, or things you should be planning to do according to society, such as marriage, traveling, having a nice job and a good career. However, if there is one thing you can take from Sociology, is how unpredictable human actions can be, and how strangely they can affect you. 

So, what happens when you don't have things figured out, and how is IB related to this?

Risk Taking, learning, and being open minded:

I think one of the coolest things about IB is that risk-taking is part of the learner profile. We are taught from the very beginning to plan ahead, do what might get the best results, and be on the "safe" side. But this is unrealistic. It doesn't prepare you for the chaotic, unpredictable, and strange world out there. While it is important to have back-up plans, and rough ideas about your future, let chances take you by surprise, adapt to them, and learn from the unexpected. There are many benefits from taking a risk and not following plans step by step, such as new opportunities, learning new things, and gaining more success in the workforce and in life in general. 

Try something new!

Even if it is just for 30 days or even a once in a lifetime thing... it can change your life forever!

Because, as Mr. Noori said,  you never get to know a culture until you see it yourself. If you want to make it happen, there are many opportunities if you look into it.

New research from the University of Chicago shows that talking to random strangers can make you happier

Or simply do something you have never done before...You never know what you will find and what it will lead to.

You don't need to have things figured out just yet. No matter how many times you are asked about your plans in life, or what you want to be when you get older, nothing is set in stone. Perhaps, the best thing to strive for in life is not a career, but simply a purpose. If you were to ask me now, what I want to be in life, I wouldn't give you a college name, or a career. I would tell you that what I want is fulfillment. I want to know that I will wake up every day of my life with a purpose, and that whatever I do, I do it because I believe in it. I want to say that I have learned, and that I've taken any chance I could to listen to others, to try something new, and to adapt to the unpredictable and crazy world we live in. 

I think that one thing that I hope we all get from IB is that we learn to put ourselves in new situations and learn from them. This is more valuable than all the book knowledge in the world. 


  1. I love this. What a great direction to take this reflection! It's so true, too. This idea of embracing the "I don't know" seems to be a running theme in our guest speakers...Mr. Gordon said he ended up in Honduras because he didn't really know what next, and he saw an opportunity and leapt. Grant came to data science by an excruciatingly roundabout route (he majored in FILM). And now Dr. Noori, whose whole life has been shaped by the decision to buy a plane ticket and take a leap.

    I hate that we make you feel like you're supposed to have it all figured out. Consider this: there is an excruciatingly low chance that you will end up homeless on the streets. So the ultimate risk of any decision is vanishingly small. But there is also an equally low chance that things will "work out like you want them to," because what you, as a 17 year old in Carrollton, WANT to happen will be SOOOO different than what you, as a 25 year old young woman, will want...

    Try to live in the questions! And bring them to me, because I love to be reminded of the million ways that I don't have it all figured out.


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