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The Life Challenge

An excellent paper 2 example by Chelsea Fuller.

From a young age our parents and family always asks, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Many answer extravagantly with occupations like a doctor, a super star, a pro athlete, and sometimes even an astronaut. Often, we are then told that we can be anything we want to as long as we work hard. That is until we get a little older, and our dreams undeniably doubtful. As we go through adolescence we begin to be asked the same question, but this one comes with a little extra, being asked to discover who we will be as an adult and how will we contribute to society. Having just recently turned eighteen I am personally facing many obstacles in answering that question. Realizing it is a lot more complicated now than when it was asked as a child. The multiple social locating factors that we use to identify ourselves cause many challenges as we shift into our adult lives.

Get an education, find a career, form a family, and live happily ever after are the common expectations most Americans are to accomplish. It seems as time goes by the pressure to get higher education is enormous and considered almost necessary. However, myself, and probably many others are facing large role conflict as we start our new lives. We are trying to be the student, as well as the adult. We are being asked to focus completely on school and at the same time expecting to start an independent life, and for many of us that means a job. I personally feel overwhelmed as I'm sure many others as well. The looking-glass self is worried how others would see them if didn't go on to receive a higher-level education. But there are so many different aspects that effect our individual decisions as we begin to define "who we are."

Wanting the best in life more and more Americans are choosing to get that higher education, to reach a higher status. Unfortunately, because of social inequalities, doing so for many is a difficult task. Depending on your economic standings can limit your options in the level of education you receive and the quality of it. Even with scholarships and loans college is extremely difficult for most to pay for. Also, many people because of their locations have limited opportunities in their public education and are then challenged when trying to go on to higher education as well. When I started high school I lived in a very small rural town where the education was less than average. There were a very small variety of classes to choose from and not a lot of classes to challenge. When trying to get into prestigious colleges even the valedictorians had difficulty because what we got was not enough. However, because of the confinements of our location many sought to leave the small town, not as "good" life to reach higher status, tiered of being "hicks".

So now I am here in college, where I have to decide what course of education to take so I can get a career in my field of choice. But I wonder, is it really all my choice? We all want to make our parents happy, and we all want to be successful, and above all we all want to be accepted, undoubtedly these factors influence our decisions as we conform to societies expectations. In my situation I started school with the idea of studying political science. After being moved by people like Michael Moore I decided that I myself wanted to try and change the world, or at least America, too. However, the very same people who told me I could become whatever I wanted to become as a child suddenly seem to have changed their minds. Now they tell me that most activist don't make a lot of money, and they question what kind of life I would be living. On top of that there is also the underlying factor of it being a "mans" job. After much pressure, I too began to doubt my dreams. So I changed them to a safer occupation. I am now going to be a teacher, a much more accepted occupation for a woman who wants to have a successful life and a family.

I feel like most of the pressures have an underlying base that goes back to our social status. I believe this is the factor that drives many of our decisions and determines how we live our lives. For if I truly chose to be what I wanted to be I would be hippy that traveled the country and enjoyed life. But honestly, with all societies expectations I feel it would be impossible to be happy. Judgment placed would ruin your self- esteem and your personal identity. If you devalue yourself it seems a little hard to be happy in life.

I want to know who decided what was the "right" way of living, and why did they get to say what other ways of living where wrong. Sometimes the alternatives that are looked down upon seem much more appealing to me.