Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told that your life should go in a certain order: you know, high school graduation at 18, college immediately after, married by 25-30… Or, raise your hand if you’ve been told you should know what you want to do by the time you graduate college at the very least.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: none of that is true. Sure, it would be nice if you had your dream career figured out by the time you graduate with a bachelor’s degree. No, there’s nothing wrong with having your life in that certain order. But those things are not requirements for a happy life, no matter how much you have been told that they are.
Even though it seems like most people have their lives figured out, at least by the time you graduate with a bachelor’s degree, the fact is that very few people do. For a lot of people, it seems, once we figure out a plan for our lives, something happens and the plan gets changed. That’s okay, though. Life changing keeps people on their toes.
Many people’s parents tell them that they have to figure out a career by the end of high school or college. While these parents are generally well-meaning, this can be detrimental to their children’s mental health. The best thing to do when your parents put this pressure on you is to try not to worry about it too much. Yes, you should think about the future and try to figure out your goals and what you’d like to do for a career. This is absolutely important. But you don’t have to have it all figured out right away.
There are plenty of adults who started in one career and ended up in an entirely different one along the way. There are tons who work at one job for years and years, but then go back to school once they’ve figured out what they really want to do as a career. It’s nice to have it all figured out, of course, and more power to anyone who does, but if you don’t, don’t panic.
If you’re having trouble deciding what career you’d like to pursue, there are a few things you can do. Try making lists of all the things you like to do and all the things you’re passionate about, and see if you can figure out a career by combining any of them. There are also many websites with quizzes to help anyone with this process. You can also try talking to teachers, a guidance counselor, or your parents about it. Teachers and guidance counselors know a great deal about different careers, and your parents probably do too, with the added bonus that your parents know your interests and skills as well.
Don’t worry about your future too much. Of course, you should think about it and plan, but don’t stress over it too much. Everything will be okay, even if you don’t have a definite plan now. Go at life at your own pace, and you’ll be fine.
(Written by Megan Flint.)