Should you have a “Story?”

I recently went to see a Stanford Med student give a talk about med school. I have no idea if I want to go to med school but I thought it would be interesting to hear just in case. This student told us about her undergrad experience, applying to med school, and a little bit about her first year. It was all really interesting but there was one thing she said that really stuck out to me.

She was telling us about an interview that she had with one med school she applied to. Apparently these schools look at every single detail from the application and they ask tons of questions. One of the interviewers asked her why she chose to spend one of her summers coaching girls basketball instead of, say, doing research or something else that fit with her path of medicine. This med student then gave everyone in the room advice and said we should make sure that what we do during summers and free time should fit our overall “story.”

By “story” she meant that everything we did should contribute to this image of the person we wanted to be at the end of the day. I agree that there should be an end goal for who we want to be in life. However, I think that the only way to figure that out is though trial and error.

My personal philosophy is that you should try as many different things as you can so that when you do settle down on a career, you have already been exposed to as much as possible.

I’ve talked about this before, but I do feel like much of middle and high school is just prep for what’s next and that’s why I was so excited for college. I wanted to learn for the sake of learning and explore everything. However, the idea that we have to act in a calculating way and justify our choices to someone for the sake of having a “story” is the exact opposite.

I’m still figuring out what I want to do in college and for a career, but I do know that my decisions will be made based on my interests and not because I have to stay within the confines of some arbitrary “story.”

Also, it’s easier to see how all the choices you’ve made in life fit together in hindsight. For example, Steve Jobs dropped out of college but continued to take classes that he was interested in. He took a calligraphy class that later contributed to the typography in the first Mac.

You never know where you’re going to end up in life, so I say try as many different hobbies and take as many classes as you can, because you never know what you’ll find interesting until you actually try.

Side note- That’s also a lot of pressure to put on someone who doesn’t know what they want to do yet. If they don’t know what they want to do, how are they supposed to make sure it all fits nicely into one story? It’s like walking from point A to point B through an obstacle course for the first time, but being told you have to lead another group through as you’re trying to figure it out for yourself.

Those are my thoughts, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.



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