What do you want to be when you grow up? As kids this was such an incredibly innocent and simple question. The answers were the typical vet, doctor, or police man. But then we got older, grew up, and most of us realized that we had no clue what we wanted to do with our lives. With the exception of maybe a few.
I believe this is one of those situations where you are expected to know what you want to do for the rest of your life, but in all reality no one really does. People in their 50s admit they still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. High school graduates often go into school and graduate, still clueless.
I’m in that boat. For sure. Just the other day I shouted to my (little) brother and asked if he knew what he wanted to be when he grows up. When I say little, I mean 19 years old, one year left of college, electrical engineer major, a PAID intern, who also owns his own vending machine business. That little brother. He, without hesitation, shouted back “no”. Which honestly, was a bit of relief to me–if he didn’t have it figured out, I didn’t feel too bad.
Nevertheless, this is still a hard situation to be in. If you are like me, you don’t know exactly what you want, but you do know you don’t want to waste your life and have no purpose. So what’s a girl to do? I’m going to share my experience and why this is not a bad situation.
You’re not alone
Take comfort, Friend, in that you are not the only one who feels this way. There are many many people, young and old, who still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. I’m a perfect example of that! It’s not unusual, it’s not uncommon, you’re not weird (totally). So don’t freak out just yet.
It’s okay to not know–at least for now
It’s unfortunate that high school students are pressured to know what they want to do (you know, for the rest of their lives) and to go to college immediately following graduation. While a higher education is very important and good to have under your belt, the truth is, it’s not for every one. Or maybe, just not right now. When someone is pressured to go to college with no clear goals, they often end up wasting a lot of money and precious time. Why do you think so many kids change majors half way through?
Take time to think it through. Not forever. Because you can’t just sit around the rest of your life planning. But it’s okay to take time to really brainstorm what you want.
Don’t just sit on your butt
While taking time off is fine, or experimenting, do not just sit around! The more you put yourself out there, the more life you experience, the more insight you will gain about yourself and what you like, as well as what you really want to do. Get involved, WORK, apply and challenge yourself. Sitting in your parent’s basement, jobless, is not “exploring”.
Decide what you do want
Chances are, you are not completely 100% clueless as to what you want or what you enjoy. Think about, and even write down, what you know you want. For example, I love design, fashion, planning, blogging, and decorating. That opens up doors to blogging full time, event planning, or pursuing a degree in one of those fields. I also have long term wants as well. Such as getting married and having a family. While I’m only 22, I know for sure that one day I want kids and I want to stay home to raise my own babies. And while that is not my immediate life, those future goals play a role in current considerations.
I also suggest that you ask around and explore your fields of interest. So if you are going to work while in school or exploring your options, find a job that is in, or somewhat near, what you enjoy. This will give you the opportunity to get your feet wet without jumping in and committing.
Take risks & make yourself uncomfortable
It’s cliché, but you don’t grow by staying in your comfort zone. Anyone who is successful did not get that way easily or comfortably. If you want to find your passion and really do something big, you need to start pushing yourself.
At the beginning of this year I took a new job. Not a huge change, and geographically it was like 7 minutes from my old job. I left my office job I had been at for 3 1/2 years to take a receptionist position at a salon. It was nothing overly dramatic, but it was a change and honestly, I was really unsure. I knew I would miss a lot of people I had worked next to for years. The atmosphere would be different, the hours changed, and the biggest question: what if I regretted it? What if it turned out to be a bad decision? “What if” will probably hold you back more than anything else will. But I went for it and now I’m 3 months in. Nothing life-changing has happened–yet. But I have made new friends, new connections, developed and built on skills, and learned new things. While I don’t know where this will go, it is a great job while I’m in school and who knows where it can lead.
Don’t wait forever
At some point you’ll have to jump. Maybe not now, but you can’t be indecisive your whole life (preaching to myself here). And one bittersweet thing about life is that it changes often. The path you choose now may not be the same road in 10 years. New opportunities come along. Which is also why it’s important to keep yourself open to new changes.
And just to give you guys an idea of where I’m at, I’m 22 and in my freshmen year of college. I waited a few years after high school, and honestly didn’t think I would go back to school at all. But I did, and I love it. Currently, I’m an interior design major. Oftentimes I feel behind and wish I had started sooner. A lot of my friends are close to graduation, and I have just started. But I appreciate it a lot more than I would have 3 1/2 years ago. And yeah, I often wonder what I want to be when I grow up. I love blogging and would love to expand in that area. So it’s ok guys to be unsure. (I wrote a post about the benefits of waiting to go to college if you want more on that!)
My last bit of advice is to just enjoy life. And if you are younger, take advantage of the opportunities you have right now while you can. While these can be tricky years, people often look back and miss them.
I hope this helped you, or at least encouraged you to realize that you’re not alone, and it’s ok. You’re going to be fine. I would love to hear from you guys about any thoughts or things that have helped you out.