by Hazel (’13)
It seems that kids are supposed to know what they want to do with their lives at younger and younger ages. Anyone who is in school right now (and possibly others, though I can’t speak for them) will probably know what I’m talking about. The thing is, it’s so accepted that it’s not one of those things people complain about as they congregate around their lockers between classes; it’s just an accepted source of stress.
Considering the specialized nature of SOTA, there actually are a lot of people who have a pretty solid sense of what they want to do in college, if not for the rest of their lives. It’s admirable, it’s impressive, and I wish those people the best of luck in pursuing what they love. And yet, the proportion of people who seem confident in their plans for the future strikes me as implausible. Can all these people really know themselves that well? The very thought of it baffles me.
Like many people in high school, I usually try to blend in, and when I see someone else doing something I like, I try to do it too. So, because I perceive other people my age as having concrete goals that are relevant to the rest of their lives, well, I want them too. So I’ve started making these big, declarative statements.
“I’m going to get a low-paying job to support myself while I write books!”
“I just want to own a bakery!”
“I’m going to go to trade school and become a mechanic!”
All of these things sound nice. But goodness gracious, I am only seventeen years old and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I say things like this because everyone else seems so confident and that scares me. But I have to be honest with myself and with everyone else. So here’s the new statement:
I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know what interests me. I’m going to go to college, try out lots of things, and eventually find that one thing I could do for the rest of my life. As much pressure as there is to decide right now what my future career will be, I refuse to choose, because I would only be lying to everyone present.
This is why, after months of consideration, I am planning on going to college next year. I always assumed I would, but after talking to classmates with different plans or at least concerns, I became less sure. No one system will fit every person’s needs. But one thing I know is that I love learning, and while there’s a lot I can learn wherever I end up, there are things that I probably could not teach myself, so I’m going to go find some folks who can. And one day, it will all come together and I’ll know what I want to do. But there’s no good reason to rush.
One thought on “Declarative Statements About the Future”
I’m so glad you wrote about this topic. I’ve been a SOTA parent for five years now, and the idea of young people knowing exactly what they want to do for their careers has always nagged at me. I know those people do exist, and I think that they are very lucky are rare individuals. It’s completely normal and natural, developmentally speaking, to not know what you wan to do yet. And for what it’s worth, I changed my career after going through nearly ten years of school. So I believe you are making a wise decision to go to college and take some time to explore.