Toward the end of high school, it seems like everyone has it all figured out, doesn’t it? Everyone except you. So, you’re in high school, community college or really at any crossroads of life – and have no idea what’s next… The world is asking, no – demanding:
What are you going to be when you grow up?
And, frankly your answer is – I HAVE NOT A CLUE, and you’re ashamed about not knowing your destiny yet. Guess what? That’s okay. It’s stressful! Why do we do this to our children? Most of us can remember our well-meaning loved ones asking us this anxiety-filled question over and over from our toddler years through adolescence. And, if you haven’t got your life’s path all figured out, and wrapped with a pretty bow by your 20s? That question comes far more often. If you are one of the millions that don’t have it all figured by the time society thinks you ought to, when you receive this question (now filled with judgement) you get that pit in your stomach that feels a lot like – desperation, pessimism, and dread.
The first real crossroads that a typical person seems to face is what to do after high school. Before high school graduation, society has pretty much universally dictated how you will spend the bulk of your time. Maybe your parents have your future already chartered for you. The gravity of this decision feels terrifying. Don’t let someone else, no matter how well-meaning they are be the captain of your ship. You must charter your own life path. John Lennon was quoted as saying:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
At 17 years old, you can’t be expected to know who you’ll be at 47 years old. The fates, your changing interests or circumstances have a habit of ignoring your most meticulous plans. Adolescent brains aren’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid-20s; so to expect a decision of this magnitude to be figured out at 17, just isn’t reasonable.
Don’t get too caught up in what other’s expect out of your life. While it seems like the world is demanding that you know exactly who you’re going to be at this coming of age crossroads; take your time with self-discovery. There’s no one in the world like you. You don’t need to have an exact idea of what’s next, but while you’re thinking and discovering who you’re going to become, keep plodding along and moving ahead in some direction. Whether it’s learning a new language, testing out of some courses, or realizing a big dream. Don’t get bogged down with the mundane – especially if life’s responsibilities haven’t found you yet, don’t worry – they will. This is a unique time where you’ll have the energy to pursue your interests. Many adults who rush into decisions of who they’ll be are filled with regret later for not chasing something that they identified more closely to. How many of the elders in your life have a job they hate, or a life not well-lived because they followed traditional wisdom?
Don’t be traditional, be original.