Many students choose to study PR because they possess both a type A planning personality with a creative spirit. These traits combine to create a unique, powerful public relations professional, but often go head to head when it comes to making decisions. Take me for example.
Entering college, I had an entire life plan. I would study strategic communication in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism with a minor in dance. After graduation, I’d take the communication specialist position that would magically be open at BalletMet in Columbus. I’d open a dance studio on the side to continue my love of teaching, and my life would be happy.
Nearly four years later, I am looking forward to two more years of higher learning in Athens, Ohio, to pursue my passion for higher education and student affairs. How did I get here? Not without conflicting emotions, financial questioning, roadblocks, heartaches, moments of freedom and plenty of support from my friends and family. Most importantly to note—I am happy, even without a dance studio.
Sometimes it can be important to set aside that life plan you made and listen to the stirring in your heart. Did you truly enjoy yourself at your internship? Or were you excited because you felt that you had to be? Did that campus job surprisingly light a fire in your heart? Does that study abroad trip sound cool even though it has nothing to do with your major? Listen to these tiny thoughts and feelings.
It can be truly frightening to let go of planning and precision but liberating at the same time. The moment I decided to follow my passion for advising and student affairs, I felt lighter. It sounds horribly cheesy, but I’m being honest. Each day I wake up and know I’m moving toward my true goal.
I made a huge mistake my first few years of college. I looked at the seniors in PRSSA and their successes as if they followed one singular path to get there. I know now from my own experience, and from asking them, that this couldn’t be more false. Everyone has their own twisted path. We may all be getting the same degree, but that’s the extent of our similarities in life journeys.
I encourage you to sit down today and think about your life path. Retrospectively, what has filled your heart with passion and light and what hasn’t felt so right. How can you do more of what makes you feel good? Is there a way you can do that for the rest of your life? Now, make a plan to make that happen. That thing you love to do can be far more than a passion project.
As a bonus, you don’t have to do this alone. Your friends and family can actually see what makes you shine. Ask around and see what they have to add. In fact, I’ve changed my entire career to help students like us find a purpose and to achieve it. To everyone reading this, if you are ever wanting to switch up your plan or learn more about my journey, know that you can reach out any time. Even when you don’t know what’s at the end of the road, you can still be happy.
Taylor Dilley is a senior strategic communication major and our current Chapter President. Taylor will be sticking around Athens after graduation for grad school! Keep up with her on Twitter @taylor_dilley.