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Friday, June 5, 2015

Quit Labeling Yourself and Be Different

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During my nightly Facebook browsing, I came across an article written by a friend from high school, entitled "Have a Desire To Learn... Everything, Not Just What You 'Want To Do.'" In this article, my friend details how he ran into a medical student who had not pursued a medical research position because it did not correlate directly with his plans. He continues about how we should not limit ourselves to one specific thing in our career, simply because we think it may not correlate directly with what we plan to do in the future.

This title and post hit me hard at home, as it reminded me of the kind of person that I am, and the kind of person that I dream of being. We so often like to label people. Engineers. Doctors. Lawyers. Writers. Yes, I am an engineering major, but I would be offended if someone labeled me solely as such. I am also a Writer. Musician. Creator. Dreamer. 

I want to learn everything that I find interest in. I want to learn to become a great writer. I want to learn design. I want to learn 3D printing. I want to master hardware and software. Not all of things correlate directly to what my "major" is, but they relate to who I want to be. When you become your "major," you are letting society label you.

People get caught in these labels and become a prisoner to them. Instead of pursuing all of their interests and being the people that they wish to be, they fail to explore other fields and become entangled in the labels they have been given.

This is why the LA actress and the Silicon Valley engineer often have so much trouble understanding each other. They become so trapped in their own clique and society that they fail to experience other groups. They fail to understand that people exist other than their own.

As my friend goes on to say, "the worst thing an undergraduate student can do is convince themselves that their plans are concrete." The worst thing that anyone can do is convince themselves this. If your plans are concrete, you are living life wrong. Live in the moment. Think about your future, but take opportunities as they come.

Currently, I work mostly with software, but if the opportunity strikes, perhaps I will take up design, writing, or some other field. After all, these all have one thing in common: they are all means of putting oneself into something external and creating something new. All of my life, I have loved creating and expressing myself. I have loved the feeling of being somewhere where no one has ever been before and the feeling of change. Perhaps this is why I have always been a technology fanatic.

When people ask me, are you "hardware" or "software," I never know what to say. Honestly, it changes by the day. Give me a cool hardware project, and I will be a hardware engineer. Give me an even cooler software project, and I am now a software engineer.

Life is not about college degrees, six figures, that brand new Tesla, or adding something new to your already over-ambitious resume. It is about experiences, creations, people, and moments. It is about feeling the chill of the Pacific Ocean as you waste away the day. It is about standing on stage and introducing something to the world that has never been seen before as you are blinded by the spotlight. It is about saving lives. Changing lives. Making life worth living. We make the world the place we wish to see. Similarly, we create the reasons for why we wake up every day and why we do what we do.

Next time someone asks you what you are, think about what you really are. Don't simply respond with your major. Does your response make you truly happy? If you are contemplating taking an opportunity, your resume should not be the first thing that comes to mind. Will the opportunity help to contribute to the person that you wish to become? Will it give you a reason to wake up tomorrow?
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  1. Great post, Brandon! This is partly why I chose Decision Science- it doesn't pigeon-hole me into only one career direction. It combines statistics, economics, and psychology. You are right in that when people are asked what defines them, they always respond with their major. There will always be someone better than you at ECE! But, there aren't that many people better at ECE, guitar, and writing than you. And if they're out there, then there aren't enough of them!

    My father was an ECE major at CMU, and a few years out he never used the stuff he learned ever again.



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