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X9+/X-Foreign Don’t Be “Practical.” Be Practica

(2010-06-03 21:26:00)
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杂谈

分类: X-杂志

Don’t Be “Practical.” Be Practical!

 

Text:Joe Lennon

      

       “What will you do after you graduate?” If you are a university student, you probably hear this question at least once or twice a day—from your parents, from teachers, from your classmates, and even from yourself. Most of you are probably sick of this question. I know, because even though I’m a teacher now, I was once a college student like you, asking the same question: “What will I do after I graduate?” And like you, I was stressed out and annoyed by this question, because it seemed like a really big question that I had no idea how to answer. Well, it is a big question, and I have no idea how to answer it for you. But I can tell you two ways how not to answer the question.   

 

1. Don’t make decisions about your studies or your job based only on what other people (including your parents) think is “practical.” What is truly practical for you is what excites and interests you.

      

       In America, university students typically take four years to finish their bachelor’s degree. At most schools, the first two years consist of basic classes in math, science, history and literature that every student has to take. At the end of their second year, students are expected to choose their major, the subject that they will spend the next two years studying intensely. Exactly 10 years ago I was a sophomore student at the University of Georgia, trying to decide what my major would be. There seemed to be two main choices: I could be “practical” and choose a major that would guarantee me a job after graduation, like business, IT or education. Or I could choose something that I truly enjoyed, that excited and interested me, even though it wasn’t very “practical”—like English literature.

       My dad is a businessman. He is a smart man, but he never went to university. He started working for IBM when he was 20 and he worked there for 30 years. He understood business, and did well in the business world. When it was time for me to choose a major, he suggested that I study business, because that was what he knew and what he thought would be “useful” for me. He thought that a business degree would be good preparation for finding work and being successful after graduation.

       Of course I listened to his advice and considered it. But I knew that business was not the right major for me. Business was the most boring subject I could imagine. What really interested me was literature. I loved reading and writing, and thinking about big things like ethics and the nature of the universe. So in the end, I chose to major in English and Philosophy. I have never regretted this decision. I finished college with a double major BA degree and high honors. If I had majored in business, like my dad wanted me to, I would have slept through all my classes, or just quit school out of frustration. Or maybe I would have kept going until I graduated, but I don’t think my grades would have been that good, and I don’t think I would have learned much.

       I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your parents. They have a lot of wisdom and experience, and usually they are trying to do what they think is best for you. But you have to know yourself and trust yourself. If your parents want you to study something that you don’t really care about at all, or if they want you to take a job that sounds to you like hell on earth, you need to explain this to them and make them realize it won’t work. Talk to your teachers, and talk to other friends who have studied what you want to study, or done the kind of work you want to do. Then go to your parents with good reasons for your decision. If they are wise they will respect your wishes. I think, in the end, my dad understood that I would not have been successful in business, and he was happy that I finished school, got a great education, and did what I wanted in life.

 

2. Don’t try to plan out your whole life right now—it won’t work. The world is changing all the time and so are you. Deciding what to do with your life is a never-ending process.

 

       When I was a college student, I thought every decision I made was extremely important. I imagined that what I decided to study in college would determine which job I got after college. I thought that whatever job I got after college would be the job that I would have to do for the rest of my life. I thought I had to decide everything at once—where I would live, what kind of girl I would marry, who my friends would be. All those decisions seemed very important to me, and I thought that every action I took would effect the rest of my life. That caused a lot of stress, and at times I felt like I should just give up and join a traveling circus.

Ten years later, I realize that I shouldn’t have worried so much. I have changed my idea of “what I want to do” several times. I’ve had a lot of jobs since leaving university. I’ve been a bus driver and a dogsitter. I’ve worked for Coca-Cola and the US government. I’ve been a teacher of English speaking, Spanish reading, and poetry writing. I’ve lived on four continents, and visited almost 40 countries. Every new job I’ve had or place I’ve lived, I’ve thought, “This is where I’ll stay forever.” But then some time went by, and I realized that there was something bigger and better for me, and I moved on.

       Now I enjoy teaching, but I also know that I may not be able to do it forever, because it’s not only me that has changed so many times, but the world I’m living in too. Everyone talks about the “economic crisis” we’re in now, and how there aren’t enough jobs, and how we should be “practical” in what we decide to do because of the current situation. But when I was in college in America ten years ago, my classmates and I were worried about the same things you are now. Even though China is on the other side of the world than America, it’s the same world. And the truth is, it’s always been difficult to find the perfect job doing what you want to do, and it always will be, no matter where you grow up. Nobody is going to just let you do what you want, unless you work hard for it, and even then, nothing is guaranteed.

Soon after I left college I realized that there was no point in trying to find a job that would last forever. People get fired, companies go bankrupt, economies fail, and governments change. Nothing in this world is secure. If you devote your life to studies that bore you, or a job that pays well, but leaves you tired and sick, you will be very angry when things change, and you find your job is gone and all your work has gone unrewarded. But if you are doing what makes you happy, then life will be an adventure rather than a series of scheduled events.

       I know that university life in China is very hectic. Many of you are taking twice as many courses per semester as I did in school. And when you are not in class or studying, you just want to relax and hang out with friends, play computer games, or drink beer. It seems like there is no time to think about what you really want and what makes you happy. Society and your parents have told you what do to, and it’s your job to do it without thinking. But this lack of attention to your true needs and desires is disadvantageous to yourself and to society. To be successful in life, you need to be self-aware. The world is full of people who don’t give any thought to their lives, working only for the sake of working. It’s these people who keep society at the same level, never reaching for new ideas and directions. Do you really want to be one of those people? Or do you want to be someone who changes minds and hearts, and offers new and valuable ideas to your boss, your family, and your country?

       If you want to be that second kind of person, take a few minutes right now and ask yourself: “Do I enjoy what I’m doing? Do I know what I want to do in the future? And do I have some kind of rough plan of how to get there?” Remember, you don’t have to answer all those questions thoroughly now. But at the very least you should be asking them. After you think about these things to yourself, be open to your teachers and your parents. Tell them your thoughts, and ask for advice. But don’t be “practical” only for their sake. Be truly practical, and work towards doing what you enjoy. If you do this, I believe you will have success, both in your bank account and in your heart.

 

 

不要“现实”,要现实!

责任编辑_刘海强

 

    “毕业后你想做什么?”作为一个大学生的你来说,可能每天都会被问到这个问题。也许它来自于父母,也许来自于老师和同学,甚至来自于你心里。你们中的大多数人可能对这个问题早已厌烦。虽然我现在已经是一名老师,但是在我的学生时代,我也曾面对过同样的问题:“我毕业后做什么呢?”那时的我,像你们一样也被这个问题搞的既紧张又郁闷。这确实是一个很大问题,然而我却完全不知道如何去回答,更无法教给你们问题的答案。但是,我能告诉你们两种方法来避免回答这个问题。

 

一、在关于你的学业和工作的问题上,不要只是听从别人(包括你的父母)的意见来做出看似很现实的选择。而真正现实的应该是选择你爱好和为之兴奋的事情。

    美国的大学生通常需要经过四年的学习来得到学士学位。在大部分学校里,前两年的课程是由数学、自然科学、历史和文学等的基础课组成。而这些课是每位学生都必须学习的。在大二期末,同学们需要选择自己的在之后两年中想要进一步深入学习的专业。而整整十年之前,当我是乔治亚大学的一名大二的学生时,这个选择对我来说同样很困难。摆在我面前的有两条路:我可以选择一个很“现实”的专业来保证毕业后能找到工作,例如商学、计算机信息技术或者教育学.我也可以选择一个让我所热爱、兴奋和感兴趣的专业,即使它看起来不是那么的“现实”——例如英国文学。

    我的父亲是位精明的商人。他从来没有上过大学。在他20岁的时候就开始给美国国际商用机器公司(IBM)工作,直到50岁才离开。他很懂得经商,在商业世界里成绩优异。而在选择专业时,他建议我选择商科。因为他觉得他很了解商业,同时商科对我来说很“有用”:一个商科学位对于毕业后找工作,甚至之后的飞黄腾达都是很好的资本。

    当然,我还是倾听并且考虑了他的建议。但是我知道商学对我来说并不是正确的专业。它是我能想象到最无聊的学科。而我真正感兴趣的是文学。我热爱看书、写作,喜欢思考很大的事情,比如伦理学和宇宙的本质。所以我选择读英文和哲学两个专业。对于这个选择我从未后悔过。最终,我以高分毕业,并拿到了两个文学学士学位。如果我听从父亲的意见,选择了商学,我应该会在课上睡觉,或者因受挫而退学。就算我还是坚持上完,我的成绩也不会太好,更不会学到多少东西。

    并不是说你不应该听从父母的意见。毕竟他们还是有很多智慧和经验的,而且确实是在做他们觉得对你最好的事情。但是,你必须了解和相信你自己。如果你父母希望你学习你根本就不感兴趣的专业,或者让你从事对你来说像是人间炼狱的工作,你需要向他们解释,让他们知道为什么这些意见行不通。多和你的老师或者从事你想学的专业朋友聊聊。你会为你的决定得到足够好的理由来告诉父母。明智的父母们会尊重你的意愿的。当我父亲了解到我在商业方面不可能成功时,他很高兴我完成了我选择的学业,得到了很好的教育,做了我人生中真正想做的事情。

 

二、不要试着现在就计划出你的整个人生——这是不可能的。这个世界,还有你,一直都在变化。决定你一生要做的事情也是一个不会停止的过程。

    当我还是个大学生时,我觉得我所做出的任何一个决定都是很重要的。在我的想象中,我选择在大学中学习的东西决定了对我毕业后能得到的工作。而我毕业后得到的那个工作,我会做一辈子。我以为我必须一下子对所有事情都做出选择——我想住在哪,我想娶什么样的女孩儿,我想交什么样的朋友。这些选择看起来对我特别重要,我以为我做出每个举动对我今后的一生都会有影响。这让我压力很大,有时候我很想就此放弃,去寻找属于自己的世外桃源。

    十年后,我才知道我本不应该那么担心。对于“我想做什么”这个问题,我也改变了好几次答案。大学毕业后,我做过很多各种各样的工作。我做过公交车司机、宠物狗保姆。曾就职于可口可乐公司和美国政府。教过英语口语、西班牙语阅读和诗歌写作。曾在四个大洲生活过,并游历过40多个国家。每次有了新工作或者换了新的地方后,我都会想:“我将永远呆在这儿吧。”但是,随着时间的变化,我意识到有更多、更精彩的事情等着我去做。于是,我再次出发。

    现在的我很享受教书,同时我也知道我不太可能永远做这件事情。因为不只是我在改变,我所生活的世界也一直在发生变化。现在,每个人都在讨论“经济危机”,社会上没有足够多的工作岗位,所以我们在选择做什么的时候应该“现实”一点儿。但是,十年前我在美国上大学时,我和我的同学们也在担心这个同样的问题。即便看起来中国和美国是在地球的两边,我们依然是在同一个世界。事实是,现在或是以后,无论你在哪儿长大,想要找到一个完美的工作一直都很难。想从事你想做的事情,你就必须努力的去争取。而即使这样,也不是一定就能如你所愿。

    在大学毕业后不久,我意识到试图找到一个能做一辈子的工作是没有必要的。员工下岗,公司倒闭,经济衰退,政权更迭。这个世界没有什么绝对安全可靠的。如果你一辈子都学习一个你不感兴趣的学科,或者做一份收入较高但是让你厌烦的工作。当事情发生变化时,你一定会非常愤怒。你会发现你失去了工作,而你以前所做的一切都没有得到回报。但是如果你在做让你开心的事情,生活就会像是激动人心的冒险而不是一系列预先安排好的事件。

    我知道在中国,大学生活非常的忙碌。你们中的很多人的课程量是我上学时的两倍。除了学习的时间,你只是想和朋友们出去玩儿,或是通过电脑游戏,喝啤酒来放松自己。看起来,你根本没有时间来思考你真正想做什么,什么能够让你开心。这个社会还有家长们已经告诉了你应该做什么事情,你的职责就是不假思虑的执行。但是这种对你的真正的需要和愿望的无视对你自己和对社会都很不利。想要在生活中成功,你需要有自知之明。这个世界上充满了对于自己的人生没有任何想法,只是为了工作而工作的人。这些人使社会保持在一个水平上,而不会探索新的思想和方向。你真的希望成为这样的人么?还是希望能够改变人的思想和心灵,向你的老板,你的家庭和你的国家提出新的、有价值的想法。

    如果你希望成为后一种人。现在,花上几分钟,问一下你自己:“我在享受我所做的事情么?我知道我今后想做什么么?对于今后的目标我有一些初步的计划么?”记住,你没必要现在就彻底的回答完这些问题。但是至少你应该问一下自己。在自己考虑过这些事之后,向你的老师和家人畅谈一下你的想法,然后征求他们的建议。但是不要只是因为他们而变得“现实”。你要真正的现实,做自己喜欢的工作。如果你这样做了,我相信不论是在你的银行账户上还是在你的心灵都能取得成功。

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