The life of a teenager isn't easy. Your outer and inner appearance is changing, hormones are dancing latin style within your body and you are still supposed to conform to the system of living and learning. Early on we are told that good grades, good manners and good friends are the key to success and a must to pass the next obstacle challenging our ways into a bright future. The pressure is on. This way we grow up in a mix of requesting and delivering, thinking we are only worth as much as the quality of our test results or the number of friends we have on facebook. While this description is obviously a bit exaggerated and does by far not apply to everyone, I do feel the need to adress the result of this kind of upbringing. It does not only seem to be implemented in our society, but also in our minds, resulting in us seeing our reality in a specific kind of way.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, a paradigm is a "typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model". Such a paradigm, based on the concept of reality, is what I found myself being confronted with in the past year of my life. Having graduated exactly one year ago, I since then have spent quite a lot of time thinking about the future. This surely doesn't come as a suprise to many of you recent graduates and freshmen in college, thinking back to the number of times you heard questions like "So what are you planning to pursue in the future" or "Have you applied to any universities yet?". I have to admit - the first few months after leaving school, a system that had felt so safe for such a long time, I was quite overwhelmed by all of the future-talk. What really struck me, was the fact that although I had reached my academic goals and had done everything to please the system, I was still quite uncertain of what the future should bring. The thing is, that good grades and amazing friends are surely great, but still not the most essential part of finding the right profession and eventually - a purpose in life. I found myself in endless conversations with adults, peers and family members, discussing different courses of studies and professions - the amount of well meant advice was endless, but still couldn‘t fill the emptiness I felt inside. There were all kind of ideas under discussion - some people told me I should study medicine, since I could thereby continue the legacy of my father, while others said that my high test results would obligate me to becoming a lawyer. There even was a time, when I seriously considered going to culinary school and becoming a chef (I still think that cooking professionally is one of the most honorable and brave things one can do, with years of hard work and bad pay, but am also glad I personally didn't go down that path). The one thing that kept popping up in my mind, was also the thing others advised me against the most - entering the tough yet wonderfully creative and ever changing world of fashion.
So what ultimately helped me make up my mind? Apart from spending time away from my common surroundings (which I talked about already in the article "Why I am a couchpotato") I also realized the existance of something that has changed my perspective on life completely - the power of our own thoughts and beliefs. I called this article "The Reality Paradigm" because I am convinced, that we truely are the captains of our own ships and are thereby also able to decide in which direction it should go. We have the power to create our own reality, we can decide if what others tell us is valid or if we follow what we feel is right. We are the ones that know ourselves the best, that dream our own dreams and that are just one step away from reaching them.
In my opinion there is no such thing as a "key to success", it does however help to dare to approach your dreams, be bold and trust in your own abilities and strengths. Once you do so, you might be surprised about the feedback you get. Are you dreaming of going to a specific university, but don't believe in getting in? Apply to it anyway! Do you feel unhappy about what your are doing? Change it! Does somebody tell you your dream is "unrealistic"? Prove them wrong! - be brave and get hold of the steering wheel, create your own reality - I promise you, it will feel great!