Breaking Down the Box

Written by Mar 1, 2012

Breaking Down the Box

Thinking outside the box inside the box should be a required course.  To me it means getting to where you want to be no matter what stands in your way.  It’s about realizing your limits and creating from inside of them anyway.  As a freshman working my way through my second semester, I realize this way of thinking is especially important to college students.  In college we are trying to figure out what we are trying to ultimately become—what’s “outside the box”—how we become it and how we overcome our limits and make them work for us in a positive way.  Life is a path and certainly not an easy one to navigate.  There are always going to be obstacles.  The creativity and initiative that we take getting around those obstacles are what make life interesting and make us who we are.  But how do we decide what is at the end of our path, or outside of the box?  Where do our original goals come from?

I remember when I was in elementary school my goal was to be a writer.  I wanted to write big glossy books just like the ones on the shelves in the library.  Somewhere inside me I still have that dream.  I think it’s amazing that even as a little kid I recognized that writing was something I loved and something I was good at.  If you ask me today what it is I am good at, I probably won’t be able to tell you so easily.  It seems like when we are younger it’s easier to have those revelations and, as we get older we start to dismiss those talents as unrealistic to apply to any actual goals.  But who says those dreams aren’t realistic?  That process of labeling what is realistic and what is not is what starts to form the walls of the box that we are trying to think outside of.

College is supposed to be the first step in getting to where you want to be in life.  It’s supposed to be the time when all the doors are open for you and you can do and be anything you want.  If college is the time when we have the most freedom, then why do we set so many limits on ourselves?  For one thing college is expensive!  It’s so expensive it seems like there is a stigma against people who pick unrealistic degrees and an even worse stigma against people who can’t pick a degree at all.  The word “undeclared” definitely has a poor connotation.  We are supposed to find what we are good at and graduate with a degree in it.  I know I definitely feel a lot of pressure to not waste time in college—this pressure comes from my parents, my counselors, my peers, but most of all, it comes from me.

What to do?

The pressure starts before we even enter college.  “What are you going to be when you grow up?” is the constant question.  In high school I would avoid any conversation that involved talking about what I was going to do with my life.  I struggled in classes like Math and science, the skills necessary to get the jobs at the top of the best paying careers’ list.  I knew I was never going to become an “Aerospace Engineer” no matter how many tutors I got, and my aptitude tests proved it.  What did show up as the careers best suited for me?  Artist.  Inspirational speaker.  None that would make me any money.

My senior year I got the journalist of the year award from my high school newspaper staff.  The next day my Dad told me that he read the number one most useless degree to get in college was journalism.  I knew that he wasn’t trying to be mean to me by telling me this.  My Dad is just a very realistic man.  In truth, he would always support me no matter what I wanted to do.  Both of my parents are like that and I am very fortunate to have them believe in me so much.  I still piled the pressure on myself and began to build the walls of the box around me that I still have today.  I entered college knowing the one major I definitely wouldn’t be enrolling in:  journalism.

My best friend in high school got a full ride to go to college.  She has always wanted to be a linguistics major and study the origins of languages.  It’s not something that I would ever be interested in but she has always loved it.  In college her major is now accounting.  She figures it’s something reliable that she can get a job in; the world is always going to need money and someone to count it.  I think it makes her feel good to have a plan that is realistic.  I know her parents like the accountant idea a lot more than they like the linguistics idea.  As her friend, I want her to do what makes her happy.  I really don’t have room to judge, my major is still not journalism.

I guess it comes down to how much we really believe in ourselves.  Do we really think we are good enough at something that we can get a degree in it and then make a career out of it?  There are some people out there who will pursue their dream no matter what because they know how to think outside of the box inside of the box.  They recognize all the amazing opportunities that exist in college and in everyday life and they are willing to go after them.  To them, they are not wasting time at all and any of the money they spend going after their dreams is one hundred percent worth it.    I think anyone can adopt this attitude we just have to think outside the box inside the box too.  College is a time when we are so free that we are not really limited by anything but our own minds. It’s up to us to make the most of what we have and the opportunities that are around us.  The first step is getting over the walls that we build ourselves.

Alexandra Joan Bennett is an editor and writer for Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media and a college student on a quest to find the perfect major and path in life.

18 Comments

  1. I think you should change your major to journalism! Screw the walls! Love Mom and Dad

  2. The best advice I got in college came from a Professor in the most stupid class that everyone felt was a waste of time. For me, it turns out to maybe have been the best. He always said “Follow your heart, and the money will come.” So try not to find the “perfect major,” just find what you love, even if it’s still writing. This is coming from a Business Management degree, turned actor. (But my “day” job requires my degree). Just have fun with what you want! :)

  3. This is an inspirational article even to somebody in their 40′s! Thank you for reminding me to “think outside the box in the box.” I look forward to reading more from you!

  4. Major in Journalism! I did. But only after trying to convince myself (for my first 2 years of college!) that I should be majoring in the business field, something more “practical” that would generate a much bigger income. But I didn’t like it! I hated those accounting courses! All I knew was that I LOVED to write. So I finally had the courage to change my major to Journalism, despite some skeptics. It meant I would have to be enrolled for 2 extra quarters since I waited so long, but it was worth it! I’ve never regretted it. Journalism is a fantastic major. It teaches you to analyze facts quickly, to think critically, and, most importantly, to be the best writer you can be. Those skills, writing in particular, are transferrable to so many jobs. My first job was working as a legislative intern and then legislative aide for state senators. I drafted legislation and wrote speeches and news columns. I also went to law school, and fully credited my success in law school to my Journalism studies. I did not enjoy reading the several hundreds of pages that were assigned each week in law school – but I knew how to pull out the most important facts, analyze them quickly, and write clear, succinct, persuasive papers. That’s what lawyers do. Not so different from journalists as it turns out. I have used my Journalism degree throughout my career – including when I became the Dean of Admissions at an ivy league school. (And I did not attend elite, private schools for my education.) Hmmm, I’d say Journalism served me pretty well. :-) “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you…”

  5. Please major in journalism. The mainstream media has no jounalistsvremaining in its ranks. They’ve become mouthpieces for radical left and right causes. So, an honest journalist who reports events without skewing these events with propaganda would be a God-send!

  6. You should major in journalism. Your very creative and arent afraid to speak your mind, which alot of people cant do these days. Its awesome to see a person my age being this creative and writing what there mind thinks. Good luck too you and your future. People can acheive anything they no matter there age as long as the dont limit themselves and your writing is proving that.

  7. It’s a lot easier to do something “impractical” when you’re young. Another way to look at it, do you really want your epitaph to read: “Here lies Alexandra Joan Bennett….a truly practical person.”

  8. I’m a big believer in the notion: find your avocation and make it your vocation. In other words, do what you love and money will come. I, like you, knew as a girl that I loved to write and was pretty good at it. But, I allowed life to get in the way and pursued other careers. However, I’ve always continued to write and finally at the tender age of 51 I’m going to be making a living as a writer. Better late than never! And, I agree with Derek. When you hone your skill and craft as a writer it will serve any career you choose. So, I say major in journalism or English! You’re a wonderful writer and the world deserves your gift!

  9. Change your major. I got degrees in philosophy & sociology because I loved the subjects. Then I went to law school. Then I was a lawyer. A miserable, well-paid lawyer. I realized that what I do is as much a part of who I am as anything else. Now I’m a full time actor/producer/director/writer/acting coach/ talent manager…..and I’ve never been happier. Or poorer….but happier. :) Do what you love and you’ll love what you do!

  10. Follow your heart. What we are supposed to be doing is what we feel passion for doing.

  11. This I wrote to Kelli Bennet on her Facebook. Just wanted you to know my thoughts on this.
    The Lord gives us all different passions for a reason. It doesn’t hurt to have the business classes to help with the knowledge how to run the business of whatever your passion is. But to live someones elses dream they have for you is a waste of time. Bad analogy, but it’s like asking a foot to smell, it could try and try but it will not be sucessful. I think Alex just asking the question is a great start. She could do a minor in journalism if there’s concernI heard 60-57. Missed 3 at buzzer to tie., she doesn’t have to fit in the institutional box of learning. She could learn outside of the environment and show her value by just doing it. People will read her, I did :-)

  12. I so wish that when I was your age that I had your wisdom and vision! When you are on your chosen path – you are happy – when you are happy, all is right with the world and by being true to your heart, you will inspire others to also be bold to claim what makes them happy. Life is too short to do not be true to yourself. The hardest thing my mother ever did was to drive me from San Antonio to Los Angeles when I was 18 for me to attend acting school. However, she knew that from the age of five all I ever wanted to be was an actor. My skills as an actor have served me well…including a successful 20 year career at PricewaterhouseCoopers! Happy to share that I am now a full time actor. Love the posting from your Mom and Dad.. “screw the walls!” Looking forward to more of your postings!

  13. You have such a mature, well grounded, and delightful voice. I’m sure you will find success no matter which path you choose, but choosing a path you love will bring you happiness as well as success and that’s what makes life worth living.

  14. Hey Alex!!! GREAT JOB, you writing is clear and easy to understand. You message is more true than I would ever say but just have always known. Really good job!!! Love you!!!!!

  15. Alex I think what you said about thinking outside the box inside the box is true. When you are a kid you want to be all kinds of things. You make me feel like I can achieve those things. I want to be a marine and an archeologist. Thanks for helping inspire me. Great Job Love Quinton

  16. I loved your article. It makes me believe that all things are possible, if you are willing to think outside the box inside the box. Even if the box you’ve built for yourself is seemingly inescapable. Love you

  17. Alex you wrote a wonderful piece of work here darlin’. I want to encourage you to do what is in your heart like I see some of your other followers have advised you. I went to MIZZOU (Go Tigers!) majoring in Journalisim and I was the last class of automatically admitted students (based on class rank or test scores) and I decided to change. I have a lot of different interestes in several different areas but journalisim is my passion. I wanted to work in Photo, Print, and/or magazine Journalisim. The only thing that keeps me from regreting my decision on my degree choice is, for me, if I had chosen to stay in the J-School I would not be where I am at today and would probably not have my wonderful husband, daughter, and little man on the way if I had stuck with that path; I would have been somewhere completely different. However, sometimes I still sit and dream of the opportunities I would have had and the pieces of work I would have been able to complete. I find myself now-a-days working at a bank (which is okay, close to home, and “practical” for a mother of two). I miss the opportunities for creativity though. Please follow your heart! Whatever it is that you desire for yourself and your future; FOLLOW IT! Just remember money does not buy happiness! So even if you don’t end up becoming a multi-million dollar writer, if you are enjoying your career and you are able to say “I became what I wanted to become” you will be happy!

  18. You really should do what you love, and if you love to write, then do Journalism. It’s a great way to strengthen your writing skills and you can learn so many things and meet many different people with their own stories to share. Sure it might not be the highest paying field, but as my dad said “do what you want and the money will fall into place”. I also loved that you mentioned how pressured kids are today to figure out what they want to be. It’s hard to decide what you want to do with your life so try and examine all the things that you like to do and see if you can find something that is similar to that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. | Think Outside the Box Inside the Box - [...] Outside The Box Inside The Box Media announced today that the column College Desk by Alexandra Joan Bennett has launched on …
  2. Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media Launches College Desk Column | Entertainment News - [...] La Crescenta, CA, March 7, 2012—Think Outside The Box Inside The Box Media announced today that the column College …
  3. Day 229: Back to School! | Think Outside the Box Inside the Box - [...] To read her first article, Breaking Down the Box, click here:  http://thinkoutsidetheboxinsidethebox.com/2012/03/breaking-down-the-box/ [...]
  4. Day 243: New College Desk Column! | Think Outside the Box Inside the Box - [...] If you missed her first column, Breaking Down the Box, please read it, make comments, like it on your …

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