I’m Not Sure Where I’m Going and I Don’t Know if That Matters

Jonny O’Mahony opens up about never being fully satisfied with his current situation and the fear that comes with the end of college life

I’ll start this by saying that I have all the plans in the world. I like to think that if I continue down the path that I’ve set myself on now, I will accomplish at least some of the goals that I’ve set myself in the past few years. Already, I’ve realised a number of them, such as getting my eating and weight under control (5 stone down – shout out to calorie counting and low fat cheese). I’ve also improved drastically college-wise, I no longer skip lectures, and I actively work towards getting the best possible result I can achieve. However, despite these milestones, I still can’t help but feel that my life is spiralling out of control to a certain extent. Within a year I will (hopefully) have graduated with a degree in computer science, and will be out into the big bad world. Thing is, I’m not sure if I’m ready for that, or if that’s even something I think I would be able to deal with.

For the longest time, I told myself that I wanted to move to Edinburgh to do a Masters, that I should continue my learning while I’m still young, get myself educated and employable now, before it’s too late. However, with a disgustingly large loan hanging over my head, that is looking more and more like an option that I just can’t take. The more I think about it, the more I realise that I just wanted to move to Edinburgh, and the Masters came in a secondary capacity to moving to the city that I’ve sort of turned into Tír na nÓg for myself. The funniest thing is, it definitely isn’t Tír na nÓg. That then leads me to question that maybe I’m just running from something. I recently moved to Germany, and before going, I could not wait.

All I wanted to do was to get out there, and begin my new life, a life full of possibilities. However, after only a couple of months there, I wanted to come back, dying to restart my old life, full of new possibilities now that I was a cultured traveller.

These realisations lead me to conclude that maybe all of my goals really have me just searching for the greenest grass. I’m never really satisfied with the grass that I have, and I always think that the grass around the corner will be more advantageous for me. For example, some people in my class were recently offered positions with some of the world’s biggest companies after placement. Having heard about this, it stirred a sense of panic and stress in me: “What if I never get an opportunity like the one they are now receiving?”; “What if I’ll never match their obvious talents and qualities that drew this company to hire them?”.

Instead of being happy with waiting and watching to see the opportunities that might become available to me after this year, I feel I’m not doing well enough, and should actively strive to counter this. I don’t know if that’s something a lot of people go through, but I think it probably is, and it confuses me.

Students are put under a lot of pressure to know exactly what we want to do with our lives. From the Leaving Cert on, we are often expected to know what we want, picking a course that can define a career-path. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s how the system works, but it can lead to a person feeling like they’re suddenly doing something they never really expected. For me, I love computer science, I don’t think I’m very good at it, but I work as hard as I can, and I know I will enjoy the work. At the same time though, I look at the people that I am best friends with, and will be competing with for jobs, and know that I am definitely not as good as them; they live and breathe computer science, whereas I am just very interested, and would like to have a career in a field I enjoy.

There’s always a person in every course where you can say: “That person there, they’re going to do pretty amazing things in this field”. That is absolutely not me, and, if we’re being honest, it’s not the majority of people. There are always outliers, and for most people, they don’t have to interact with these outliers, those people it’s clear will do brilliant things, and from whose very existence the world will positively benefit. I have to deal with the fact that most of my friends are these outliers, these exceptional people that continue to astound and succeed, and I’m sitting here, average.

Graduating is both terrifying and exciting to me. Terrifying, because I will be leaving the warm, fuzzy embrace of college. Exciting because, maybe I’ll be able to afford a decent bike? No more Coke Bikes for me! Coming full circle, I recently realised that my search for the greener grass isn’t a bad thing. It just means that I am going to continually strive to better my surroundings for myself, for my friends, and actively work towards doing something good. Now, I have genuinely no idea what that will involve, hopefully all of my current interests will be able to feature there, but if they don’t, that isn’t really that bad of a thing either. I won’t be doing it if I don’t like it.