Trial and Error

Brian Hornfeldt

Staff Writer/Social Media Manager

“The point of your 20s is to try 12 different things and fail at nine of them.” 

This quote from Rainn Wilson has resonated with me since I first heard it a few weeks back. On a literal level, it speaks to the uncertainty that many young adults deal with while trying to find their place in the world. Looking at it deeper, it encapsulates the disconnect between what is expected of young adults of the older generations, and the reality of what is necessary in order to begin filling these gaps in society.

He goes on further to say, “If you view your 20s as a workshop stage, then… you can relax a bit.”

In today’s society, the expectation for many high school graduates is to know what they are going to be doing for the rest of their lives. It is expected that many 18-20-year-olds should have already decided what they want to spend the next 40/50/60+ years of their lives doing, when they’ve hardly had the time to figure out what they are passionate about, what they’re good at, or even who they are.

When I graduated high school, I was nearly certain I knew what field I wanted to go into. My expectations at the time were to apply to UNCG, major in Computer Science and go into a form of cyber security after graduating. Then, something unexpected happened. 

I realized I hated doing Computer Science.

There was too much math, and not enough computer. I failed almost half my classes the first semester because I was too headfast in my initial decision, that considering a different major was out of the question. It wasn’t until the end of my first semester that I, by chance, happened to see a flier from the English department advertising the Creative Writing minor. I had always known I had a natural aptitude for English; it was my strongest subject for as long as I could remember. But I’d never considered majoring in English because I had wanted to go for what I thought at the time would make me the most money.

This was unfortunately one of the major downfalls of the expectation that youths should have their futures planned from the time they apply to college. It was always an understanding of mine that I would have to find a career that would make me lots of money in order to make it in society where inflation is rising rapidly and the living wage has long since died. But, I decided to give majoring in English a shot and see where it might take me. Shortly after my first semester majoring in English, I’d written a short story for my creative writing class and submitted it for publication. 

I was paid almost 150 dollars for the rights to publish it.

This to me was a game changer. An eye opener. Not only was I doing much better in my classes, but I was loving them. I was truly and utterly passionate about the classes I was now taking, and had found that I could make money doing it as well. It was through this trial and error that I found what I wanted to do as a career, and I decided to invest myself into it wholly. It was after all this that I saw Rainn Wilson’s quote, but I can say with certainty that it’s true.

Ultimately, the point of this article isn’t to talk about myself, but to equate this quote to a real world scenario to prove its validity. Whether you’re feeling the pressure of parents, society or even self-judgment, it’s important to step back and realize that you have a whole life ahead of you. Figuring out what you are going to do for the entirety of your life is a major undertaking, and you have plenty of time ahead of you to figure it out. 

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