Advice for Uncertainty

Naohito Miura

The summer between my junior and senior year at Pomona, I remember hearing someone say, "the more opportunities you get, the more opportunities you get." I probably still remember the phrase today because it rang true for me back then and still does today. It's an obvious observation, but helpful for me in summarizing the last 10+ years of my life. One set of opportunities led to another set of opportunities, and I wouldn't be where I am today (literally, in Angola at the moment) if it weren't for the people and circumstances that helped me take the steps I took. For example, I'm in Angola right now thanks to the experience I had in Brazil the year before, and I wouldn't have traveled to Brazil if I weren't enrolled at Harvard Divinity School, and I wouldn't have gone to graduate school if it weren't for Pomona and the two years I spent after graduation as a middle school teacher etc. etc. ...

Once you apply yourself to something, once you do something—anything—that experience often opens the path to another, at times taking you to places you didn't expect to be before. On a practical level, one opportunity (job, internship, seminar, travel, hobby, conversation, etc.) exposes you to more information—introducing new people and ideas into your life—and you might end up with different or revised priorities. On a more personal/emotional level, you learn more about yourself as you gain more experience, getting a better sense of what activities you most enjoy and what values you want to center your life on. To use a food metaphor, if you want to know which flavor of ramen you like the most, you first have to try each flavor, one at a time.

So if you might be unsure about what you want to do after college, I guess my suggestion would be to do something—anything—and just do the best you can at the time (nobody can do more than that!). But when it comes to giving advice, I recall this quote from Oscar Wilde: "The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself." You know your situation best, so take care of what's in front/inside of you, and let's not limit ourselves to always following good advice from others.

Here's a few more quotes that have helped me in the past, in case they might be helpful for you as well:

"Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go."

"As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY." —Charlie Chaplin

"Own your bad news. When something goes wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You'll be better off if it's you." —Rework p. 231

“Never make excuses. Your friends don't need them and your foes won't believe them.” —John Wooden

"…we are under a moral obligation in choosing our experiences, since the result of those experiences must ultimately determine our understanding of life." —Jane Addams

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."
—Reinhold Niebuhr

"You don't need another person, place, or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it." —Maya Angelou

"Go hospitably disposed to whatever may come your way." —Professor Jerry Irish

"Know that the happiness we feel when we bring joy to others is the greatest happiness in the world." —Mokichi Okada

Please feel free to connect with me through the website. Always happy to chat with Pomona students! :)