When I was a kid this was my favorite question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now, as a student going into grade 12 this fall, this question is something I now dread. Although I have “grown up” I still have no idea what I want to do after high school. I am expected to make a plan for my postsecondary education by October of 2019, which seems like a completely ridiculous idea. Not to mention the fact that I’m constantly bombarded with reminders from the adults in my life to choose a career path now, right now, specifically one that will make me lots of money and set me on a comfortable path for the rest of my life.
In a world filled with talented prodigies, high schoolers assume that we must know what we’re good at and perfect that while we’re young. We should be winning awards and going to good schools and starting life-long careers before we can legally drink. We are pressured to take the hardest classes, to get the highest grades, to get into the best colleges, etc. We do this because we are told by society that if we fail while we are young we won’t be able to succeed in the future. The fact of the matter is that this pressure will never end. We will one day feel pressured to get the best jobs, to get promotions and raises and in turn, we forget to be happy. We forget to do what we actually like because we are too focused on “succeeding.”
Here’s the thing:
This is not true. We are young, and we are allowed to be indecisive. We are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to try something out, realize we don’t like it and switch paths towards things that make us happier. My all-time favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late twenties. J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter book in her thirties, and Walt Disney was fired from his job as a newspaper editor because he wasn’t creative enough. Despite the pressure we often feel to succeed as soon as possible, these people prove to us that it is possible, and maybe even necessary to try and fail before we truly succeed.
We are young, and we are allowed to be indecisive. We are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to try something out, realize we don’t like it and switch paths towards things that make us happier.
I encourage everyone reading this to choose to do what makes you happy — what fulfills you. It is never ever too late. So if you know what you want to do now, do it. If you decide you want to do something else when you’re 50, do it. And if you don’t know what you want to do, take solace in the fact that one day you will find your place in the world. For now, all we can do is be confident in ourselves. We are all talented in different ways. We are all beautiful and complex creatures who are capable of amazing things, so it’s OK if it takes a few of us a while to figure out what we’re going to major in. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.