The Time for Renaissance Men and Women Is Over

My freshman year, I wish someone told me that I am, in fact, not awesome, and contrary to what I may believe, I cannot do everything. Let me explain.

In high school, I was taught to be "well-rounded." I launched myself into afterschool clubs and loaded my schedule with diverse courses -- basically, I tried to be awesome at everything. Perfectionist? Of course. Superficially motivated? Undoubtedly.

I grew up in a traditional Bengali household, and as much as I hate to reinforce stereotypes, my Asian upbringing centered on academic success. Save me the humor. What's important here is that I never really learned how to explore my interests. My time was spent immersed in schoolwork and being the multi-faceted, awesome person I was (or so I thought).

And then college hit me. I had to choose a major. And since I'm already being dramatic, I was told to choose one thing to do for the rest of my life. Are you kidding me? Somebody please tell me the awesome mash-up of things I did in high school was not a waste. Nobody told me this, at least not directly.

So, I kept doing the awesome things I was good at. A look at my schedule would reveal a hodgepodge of subjects I registered for impulsively. I hunted down booths sprawled across campus that broadcasted "opportunities." I became a sucker for random organizations that sent out enticing emails to freshman.

It was not long before I grew tired of doing new, awesome things. What kind of sick game was this? I didn't want to branch out anymore. I just wanted to choose one thing I loved and be awesome at it. I did not tell anybody that. Instead, I silently planned my quest to triple major for three times the awesome, tried to invent the new Facebook, hoped to open a chocolate factory for disadvantaged Malaysian orangutans, all as I pursued an undercover pre-med track as an aspiring, undiscovered actor/singer-songwriter, perhaps working in a cancer-curing research lab on the side, and if time permitted, run for SGA president after befriending members of an Old Row, white fraternity, all whilst working on my debut Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about being triple awesome. As a naïve, impressionable freshman, my future looked bright. The sad part is that most people I knew would tell me to "Go for it!"

If I have not yet made my point, let me. The time for Renaissance men and women who do everything is over. Humans may not be one-dimensional, but increasingly, society forces us to be. The majority of college graduates will go on to pursue careers in a narrow field of interest. Our ambitions may tell us otherwise, but the day will come when we will have to choose singular career paths. For some of us, it will be a traumatic reality check. For others, who have been cultivating a linear skill set for the work force, the transition from college to career will be seamless. There are two kinds of awesome. One of them tells us to do everything. The other tells us to man up and choose that one thing we are passionate about.

So the question arises. Are you the student who will attempt every spontaneous opportunity thrown at you, living in the moment, or are you the student who will carefully construct a repertoire in a single area? Whatever the case, we can only be one kind of awesome.