A lesson in impulsivity


Justin See

Life gives us many choices: some paths are for us, and some are for others.

Nick Sack, Managing Editor

Most of my friends will agree with me that I am one of the most impulsive people they have met. 

This past summer, I got my ears pierced and my hair dyed without telling my mother (which she of course, did not approve of).

Doing these things made me feel free and in control, especially in a time where control wasn’t exactly easy to come by. At the very least, I was in control of how many holes were in my ears and how blonde my hair was.

My impulsivity did not end there, of course. I was just getting started.

To make a long story short, my dad passed away in January, and before he died, I was made aware of his lifelong passion to work as a Park Ranger and care for animals.

That story struck me to my core, as my dad died working as a computer programmer, rather than as a Park Ranger, which was what he actually wanted to do. 

I’m not sure if it was a heightened state of emotions or my pure impulsivity, but after I found that out, I thought about it, and I was immediately ready to drop my Political Science major and go into Biology so I could be a zookeeper. 

That lasted approximately three weeks before I gave up on it, but I had already registered for classes, so I was signed up for a whole semester of BL 101! 

Needless to say, I am back on my plan to finish my Political Science major, but I still kept my mind open to the possibility of something else illuminating my path. 

Flashback to two weeks ago, as I was writing my column for The Carroll News, I was reading an article about how humans change, and it referenced an excerpt from a book called “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone,” by Lori Gottlieb. 

The excerpt was very attention-grabbing, and I was immediately thrust into the world of therapists, learning how they think and interact with their patients. 

As someone who had never even spoken to a therapist, I was shocked how enchanted I was by this, and I immediately began researching the education necessary to become a licensed therapist. 

After some sobering research that a master’s in clinical psychology was needed, I was luckily able to put that idea back on the shelf before it got too out of hand, but it is still present in the back of my mind, just like the zookeeping dream is. 

My two attempts at making an extremely radical change in my life did not come to fruition, but they are still present in my mind. 

Sometimes I feel as though it’s too late to drastically alter my life’s course. I’m already 20, and I’m nearly finished with my major, and with thousands in debt. Thus I give up on any new spark of passion, even if it just lasts me a few weeks.

What gives me relief, however, is the example of one of my professors, Jen Ziemke. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, her master’s degree  and a Ph.D., she quickly became one of the most learned women in topics of international relations and African politics. She serves on two Board of Directors, has volunteered for the Peace Corps and has hitchhiked across Africa. 

I believe Ziemke felt the impulsivity that I find so familiar, and she decided to become a registered paramedic, receiving her certification from Cuyahoga Community College. 

Drastic change, evidently, can happen, and it can happen quickly for some people. 

Maybe in 20 years I’ll grow tired of campaign politics and study to become a zookeeper, or maybe I’ll get my master’s in clinical psychology, or maybe some other new impulse will appear in my life, and I’ll end up chasing that.

Whatever the case may be, I’ve learned recently that impulsivity is not the enemy of passion. In fact, it can be its most powerful engine. 

Our impulses, and therefore, our passions, become a mosaic of who we are, and form our central interests. I’m a political scientist first and foremost, but I’m immensely concerned with environmental conservation, and I’ve always formed one-on-one personal relationships with people, trying to help them make sense of their crises. 

Who we are is defined by our impulses. Maybe some days that will take the form of piercing our ears and dying our hair (sorry Mom!), but other days it’ll shape who we are as dynamic, changing and downright impulsive people.