A Note From The Editor: Here at Darling, we value the voice of every woman — regardless of her age. We want to bridge the gap between old and young, believing that there is much to be gained from the perspective of every generation. For this article, we’re sharing words written by a high school student to better understand how the youth perceive our culture, its pace, and its pitfalls. 

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The drop-down menu on my college application gives 55 options for career interest. Here it is, the culmination of the question what do you want to be when you grow up? and only one answer is allowed. There is no room to write that besides a career in English Literature, I also want to be a traveler, a food critic, and a philanthropist.

Renaissance woman is not an option either.

Looking back, I remember being told, “You can be anything you want to be.” Yet, no one ever told me that anything could mean two, three, four, or even five things. So, I – along with many girls around the world – bounced around trying to find that one thing that is supposed to be our true calling, that one thing that will give our life meaning. I did so until I realized that I had already become more than one thing. In the process of discovering my one true calling, I had become a public speaker, a writer, a volunteer, and a musician. I had become not a jack-of-all-trades, master of none … but a jack-of-all-trades, master of some.

The problem lies, then, not in our own abilities or the diversity of our interests. People, inherently, are multifaceted. We have many hobbies and talents. We pursue a variety of activities — early on in our lives. By the time we reach high school, this Renaissance notion fades as we begin to specialize and narrow down our path, for that seems to be the only way to achieve success.

But when we give in to this fear of mediocrity, we ignore the idea of being well rounded. We perpetuate the concept that doing well means only doing one thing, that spreading ourselves out means spreading ourselves thin. Essentially, we lock up the Renaissance woman – along with childhood fears – never realizing that we can achieve more than the boxes we check on our college applications, more than the major we choose in college.

As the last of my applications have been submitted, counselors and teachers remind me, “You are more than your college applications.” Perhaps it’s time for all of us to remind each other, then, that we are all worth more than our career choice, more than our one talent, more than our specialties. We are more than one option on a drop-down menu.

It’s time to free the Renaissance woman.

Image via Morgan Ashley Photography

9 comments

  1. Wow, thank you for your gracious words. It is so, so true that we let things box us in all too often. Here’s to being free of that and living out every aspect of our lives with passion and dedication. All the best to you as you pursue your dreams!

  2. We are not what can be changed. This must mean then, that we are not our majors, a selection on a drop-down menu, we are not our talents and hobbies, we are not our jobs, we cannot even be fit into “categories”. We are what cannot be changed. We are our Spirits. We are our Essence. That, my darling, can be infused into everything we do in the world because THAT is who we truly are. Keep Radiating 🙂

  3. Staphany-
    I too am a high school student and your article gave me so much reassurance! I have often felt pulled between the desire to excel above others at one thing or enjoy all my interests of art, fashion, dance, singing, and language. A well rounded lady can relate to more people and change more lives with every passion she pursues! Thank you for your wisdom.

  4. Staphany-
    I too am a high school student and your article gave me so much reassurance! I have often felt torn between the desire of excelling at one thing or being well-rounded in all my interests of art, fashion, dance, singing, and language. A well rounded lady can relate to more people and change more lives with every passion she pursues. Thank you for your wisdom!

  5. I loved this article and have been ever drawn to the notion of Renaissance woman. I’m graduating this spring and so frustrated by people trying to box me in to my French major, or my teaching instincts. I love both things, but I also love writing, music, photography. And let’s not even talk about the fact that I’m passionate about nature and medicine. It’s daunting and hard to work on so many things, especially when so much of society expects us to choose one passion, one career, one goal, but I wish you all the luck in your multi-faceted pursuits! You go girl!

  6. This article was inspiring and insightful. I am a recent college graduate, and this article really hit home in a helpful way. I hope you find what you are looking for in life as well as your career, good luck!

  7. There is so much to learn from every generation indeed! What a bright young woman with an identify of Purpose.

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