Dare to Live Beyond Your Resume

Drafting a resume is a sobering experience.

This particular activity makes me feel like a beggar. It puts one in the awkward position of grasping an attempt to impress some faceless individual. This no-name will hold my fate, perhaps along with a stale cup of coffee, in his very hands. That's unnerving.

I, like most everyone I know, have spent my last three years at UT hopping from clubs to class, preparing for this moment. Concerns over the actual content of my resume are long gone. Now that it's time to put pen to paper, or, rather, hand to keyboard, I'm experiencing more than application anxiety.

Lately, I have been preoccupied mulling over the goal.

Lest you think me daft, I'm not talking about the stated goal. Whether it be graduate school or an entry-level job, the purpose of a resume is self-explanatory. My focus is on the motivation beyond.

Why do we labor so ardently to shape the content listed on our neat pieces of paper, like little children attempting to stay in the lines of a coloring book? Because that's exactly what we are doing. We grab a little bit of community service, like blue, and put it next to a little bit of leadership, like yellow, and try to paint a sunny picture of our lives. As long as we pick the right colors, and put them in the right places, we are supposed to land acceptance into a great grad school or a cushy job.

My question is, why? Why is this form of achievement our focus? I am not asking these questions to condemn at all. I'm asking this of myself as well. To explore my motivations, I have lately been engaging in a series of hypotheticals.

Think with me, for a moment. Imagine yourself being successful in whatever career you choose, with a steady income, the education you want, living wherever you choose. My question now is, then what?

It seems like we're all striving for something that seems... well... boring. Not that I don't want to achieve my career ambitions, but in my opinion, this should not be the focal point of one's existence. We are constantly told to study, graduate quickly, nail the interview and settle into some safe position. Something tells me, though, that's not the key to a happy life.

If we do that, we've arrived. But arriving at a bearable 40-hour work week, cycling on into forever, strikes me as more of a failure than a win.

So if resume building consumes your life, resume writing is painful, interviews are nerve-wracking and the final goal is ambiguous, why do we allow ourselves to be consumed by this? Victory belongs to those who can manage to succeed without giving their lives over to any 'master plan.' I think the answer lies in the pursuit. In life, those with the ability to take joy in the present are far better off. Life, or at least real living, happens when we end up somewhere unexpected.

I think the answer is passion. Find one, and go after it. If that pursuit interferes with building the perfect list of achievements, let that go. Trust me. In the end, the corner office just isn't worth it. No matter how nice your chair is, you won't be comfortable unless you are doing what you love.