Welcome to spooky season, ladies and gentleman, where pumpkins glow and black birds crow, especially in the small town of Ames, Iowa!
The costumes and Halloween decorations on the fraternity houses are not even the spookiest things I have seen thus far in October. This is what is spooky: students are running around like chickens with their heads cut off while plucking their feathers trying to get at the ticks.
Students, stop torturing yourselves. We are in the middle of the semester and thriving, but we are forgetting that we are in college because of us, our future and our opportunities. We are getting so caught up in midterms, grades and our studies that we are not taking enough care of ourselves. We keep plucking our own feathers and acting like chickens. You are not a chicken.
I am going to offer you a golden nugget for college: do it for you. We are told to do this and that and go here and there during this or that semester for this or that reason. We never do enough of what we want and it makes us miserable. No one wants you to feel like you are a robot sent from who knows what universe to just do your duties. Our whole college careers are geared to make us as perfect as we can on a few pieces of paper, but that does not mean we have to bend over backward to do it.
The truth of the matter is that any employer, graduate program or Ph.D. program — given you have the correct qualifications for the desired position — want to see passion and purpose in your activities. Your essays and interview questions will naturally spit passion all over themselves as long as you love what you are doing.
If those requirements make you miserable, it is completely fine to not want to go through with it. It is fine to say no. It is fine to change what you are doing. Some emotional sacrifices are necessary and sometimes we have to do things we would not want to do, like possibly take organic chemistry or calc 2; however, make sure the fight is worth it.
Engineers, only take the internship or co-op if you truly feel it will benefit you and make you happy. Medical school admirers, do attempt to publish (it is in fact a good idea), but chase the research if it helps your mental development and personal fulfillment. If any of these sound appealing to you, then DO IT!
We are programmed to check off the list, to follow the plan, to prove to someone we are who they want. Passion is contagious. You do not have to follow the recommended set of tasks to the tee; just pour your energy into something. The passion will show itself. Give employers something they have not seen before and make a story out of it. Make a story so grand and thrilling that they want to experience it, too. Let your passion drive you and let your purpose define you. I guarantee you will stop looking like a crazy chicken around campus. Do what you want to do and do it for you.