Edit desk: Don’t always follow the plan

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Viannis Almonte

As someone who is obsessed with planning out her life, I was thrown for a surprise when coming to Lehigh.

Before starting school, I had my entire life planned out. I would be a business school student with a great social life. I would work for a company for a few years before getting married and by 26 or 27 years old, I would have had my first child. By 30, I would be done making children and continue to work and provide for them. By 55, I would be retired and living a fun, healthy life. By 60 I would be enjoying the company of my grandchildren.

I had written down everything I wanted to do. As a freshman, I had post-its in my room constantly reminding me of the tasks I had to accomplish by a certain age.

When I started taking business classes, something was not clicking for me. I didn’t enjoy learning about supply and demand, or the different business paths to take, but I was told I would find a lucrative career. My counselor told me to explore different options, but I told her that I would be able to get through it, still thinking business would help me succeed financially. I wanted to make my family, friends and past teachers proud.

At the end of my first semester, I was stressed.

The plan of graduating Lehigh with a business degree at 22 seemed nearly impossible. What was I going to do? It was time for registration and I created three different schedules with classes I wanted to try. I did not get into any of them, once again struggling to find my place and stay aligned with my plan. I was forced into classes I was not passionate about.

My life was falling apart. I was not in the business school, I was not on any dance teams at Lehigh, I was gaining weight, I would not be working in a company any time soon and my love life was not heading in the direction I wanted it to go in, which meant I wasn’t on track to being married.

After changes in my personal life and growing to love myself more, I decided I needed to take action and not waste any more time. I knew I needed to make the most of my time at Lehigh and that would only occur if I let go of the plan I had created for myself.

So, I let go.

I started to recall my passion for writing, reporting, law, race relations and Spanish and began to take a few classes in the respective majors. At the end of my sophomore year, I declared a journalism and political science double major with a Latin American and Latino studies minor.

I wanted to create a place on campus that would not only help me become more involved, but also connect with my heritage. That is where Tumbao, a Latin-fusion dance team, came in. I did not know how I was going to be a leader on this team, but with this new role, I was forced to learn to come out of my comfort zone and lead a team.

I began to feel a sense of relief. Although my life was not going as I initially planned, I found my passions academically and socially.

Here I am at 21, not in the business school, on a dance team I created, with no exact idea of what route my life will take after graduating in about a year and I am much happier than when I had a plan.

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