Focus on creating a lifestyle, not career

by Aaliyah Alexander, Opinion Editor

Is it safe to make the assumption that most of us have been taught, what I like to call, “society’s template for success?” 

From observing others and their satisfaction with life after achieving “success,” the assumption seems to hold some weight. 

The template goes something like this: graduate high school, decide what you want to do with the rest of your life at the age of 18 (maybe younger), go to college, get a degree, get a 9-to-5 gig, get married and start a family —  all while climbing the corporate ladder until you’re “satisfied” with your position. 

I never questioned this template because it’s what I saw growing up, it’s what was portrayed on television shows and it’s how I was programmed to operate. I accepted this societal expectation and was on the path to fulfilling this expectation until an Uber driver said something that changed my perspective. 

“Focus on creating a lifestyle, not a career… just pursue how you want to live life.”  

To clarify, the Uber driver wasn’t suggesting dropping out of college. Instead, he was suggesting putting more effort and attention on the life you want to create because, in his words, “that’s what you’ll have left over.” 

Obtaining a college education is important but it shouldn’t be the core of your existence. Life itself should be the core. 

Contributing to society through capitalizing on talents and building a career you love should be one aspect of life, while making memories should be the focus. 

We shouldn’t neglect having a joyful existence in order to hustle for titles and accolades because those things come and go, but time passes without the promise of more.    

At the end of the day, you won’t be reminiscing on the Biology 101 class you took in college. Instead, you’ll be reminiscing on the late nights you stayed up laughing with friends or the times you had courage to try something new. 

It’s important to strike a balance between work and play, which is why I’m a huge advocate for the slow living movement. In short, the slow living movement promotes mindfulness in a world designed to be fast paced. 

If you desire to create another template for your life, researching alternative lifestyles that emphasize more balance is key. To get started, three things you can do starting today are to set boundaries, evaluate your priorities and make time to experience things other than work or school. 

For me, my priority is being healthy — both mentally and physically —  so I carve out time every single day to cater to those needs. How I satisfy those needs looks different throughout the year, but they never get looked over because of school or work.  

If I don’t feel mentally and physically well, then the core of my template crumbles, thus affecting my ability to contribute my talents to society or do well in building a career.  

It’s a bold statement to say, “create a lifestyle, not a career” because society isn’t built for that. However, it’s up to us to change that script and prioritize enjoying life.   

Aaliyah Alexander is a junior studying journalism and international studies. Follow her on Twitter @aaliyahdanyell.