Over the course of this past academic year, I have faced some of the most stressful, painstaking and arduous work of my academic career. As much as I am passionate and appreciative about what I study and I know the importance of it, I have now come to realize that I’m not in love with what I do. Going to university at any age from any back­ground is difficult, and while I recognize that I am in an extremely privileged situation — I am a white upper-middle-class man who has been well sup­ported by his family and friends — the stress of academics forces you to learn a lot about yourself and what you want.

For a long time now, I have been burdened by a fact that I’ve forced to the back of my conscious. My family has had to work very hard to get the success that they’ve accrued, and while I wish to continue my work — whatever it may be — in that same spirit, I recognize now that my aca­demic successes are not accredited solely to me. Because I was rather young when I made the decision to come to the University of Washington Tacoma, I was forced to grow up within a very short period of time, learning to work under stressful environments and forcing myself to be the best I can academically. I also recognize now that the chief drive for my education was not for my own personal success.

I have always felt the pressure to perform from the support of my family — and to a lesser extent, my friends — to achieve the degree that I will soon hold for them. And while I am grateful to have attended the educational institution where I have, when I have and with a fairly minimal financial impact, I cannot shake the feeling that I am earn­ing my degree for my family, not for myself.

While it is a very appealing idea that everyone studies what they are genuinely passionate about, and that by pursuing your passion you will find success — whether it be financial or personal or even spiritual — following your passion is not always the best path. I’ve come to recognize at this turning point in my life that my passions are not completely aligned with what work I have done or previously hoped to achieve. However, I recognize the importance of my work to myself and those around me, and should I find a deeper sense of purpose in what I do, then I will follow it to the end.

Every instructor, student and peer I’ve met along the way has assisted me in this journey. I thank you for continuing to find the spirit of academic success as well as personal stability. I do not know what the future will hold for me after graduation, but I know now that it will be drastically different from what I initially set out to achieve — and I couldn’t be more thankful for those who were there to support me in my toughest moments.

If there’s one thing that I could say to my younger self, it would be to take my time and find a direction that is best compatible with my per­sonal attributes and capabilities, rather than what others around me suggest. Success is begotten from sacrifice and hard work and many trials and tribulations of the mind and spirit, and at this young age, we are very vulnerable to change.

If there’s one thing I hope of the future, it is that no matter what I do — should it be to move forward in my current career path or seek a new way — to find passion in it. Passion comes from what you make of what’s around you, and I look forward to a place where that passion lies. No matter where you go from here, it will always be upwards. Go long and finish strong!

COURTESY OF IDS PHOTOS
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