Hi, my name is Afrah, I am a college student, and I’m a pragmatic idealist. That probably sounds like an introduction someone would make at an AA meeting, so let me elaborate. At my core, I am an idealistic, creative person who wants to utilize my interest and ability in self-expression to better myself, and perhaps even leave a small mark on the world. Now, if that sounded like a bunch of nonsense to you, a part of me would agree, and that is where the pragmatism comes in.
I am not eccentric. I don’t dress like I’m from a different era or speak in a pretentious way. Most of my friends are pursuing very normal, uninspired careers that will make them pretty successful, in the traditional sense of the word. Not only do I understand pragmatism, I am pretty well-versed in it. I witnessed how hard my immigrant father had to work to get to the same level of comfort at the age of 50 as all the Johns and Craigs had at 35. My parents taught me from a young age that education was the key to my success, and my dad, who is a doctor, would always tell me that a career in medicine is the only guaranteed way to win at life. So, as the generally obedient kid that I was, I did well in school, convinced myself that I loved science (even though I always told my dad medicine wasn’t for me), and kept my interests in theatre, film, and writing as hobbies, because I knew my future depended on it. In one sense, everything I did worked, as I made it to college and am now nearing my third year. But in another, more personal sense, my world is more complicated than ever.
Being a pragmatic idealist can be incredibly exhausting, especially when you come to an age when you have to make decisions on your own. My two sides are constantly at war; my rational side knows I should pursue a STEM career due to the good job prospects, and the dreamer in me wants a cool, creative job. And I can’t seem to decide what’s right because I fear boredom and complacency as I do heartbreak and rejection. The question is, what am I more afraid of? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.