Campus Column: Take the Leap

Olivia Shackleton, Campus Editor

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 “You won’t go to Padua if you don’t get an academic scholarship,” my mom warned me, as I reached the end of my middle-school career. My parents have always acted as motivators, reminding me how important education is, and they have consistently encouraged me to do well in school. My routine for the past 16 years included working hard and being diligent in my studies in order to be prepared for the next step.

In middle school, it was very easy for me to visualize my future — get an academic scholarship and attend Padua Franciscan High School, achieve a high GPA and be a well-rounded student, then choose a university that would help me be successful in the future. These steps have all been accomplished, but now the path is no longer straightforward. There are forks in the road; there are choices to be made.

Reaching the second semester of senior year has brought to mind all of the anxieties and fears that I have been suppressing. I have always been easily flustered, but I try to have a positive demeanor. However, it is almost impossible not to get worried while contemplating what my life will look like seven months from now.

As a child, I was constantly fed the line, “You can do anything that you set your mind to.” A wonderful, supportive sentiment. After reaching this point in my education, I did not think I would hear that line again. However, this was not the case. I was in my professor’s office the other day when I asked him what career he could see me pursuing. His answer was very similar to the familiar childhood line. He said, “Olivia, I don’t want to pigeonhole you into one career. I think you can be successful in any path you choose — be it journalism, politics or anything else.”

These words made me stop and reflect. When did I stop believing that I could do anything? Why have I told myself time and time again that I could never achieve a certain career goal or move to a certain city? Why have I allowed my doubts and fears to come between me and the big dreams I used to have?

 When I was younger, I truly believed in myself and my abilities. I would write song lyrics and perform them for my family, thinking that I could be singing them in front of an audience some day. In high school, I felt confident that I could go to medical school and be an excellent doctor. Yet, in my senior year of college, when I am on the brink of all these wonderful and exciting opportunities, I feel as though I should just take whatever I am offered so I can feel secure. 

On some level, I understand that I have to be realistic. I can’t move across the country because I only have $100 to my name. I can’t be an elite White House reporter when I have not yet gained enough experience to hold that title. But who is to say that I can’t do these things in the future? 

 As I have gotten older, especially during my college years, I have allowed myself to feel a bit cynical about the future. I hope that as I approach graduation, I have the courage to take the leap and chase my lofty dreams.