One of the number one things people 16+ think about is what career they want to pursue.
By 16 teachers tell her that she should start checking out colleges. Certain colleges only offer specific majors and some universities are known to have better programs than others. So at 16 she has to begin preparing for all the standardized test that will come hurling her way, looking at universities, and figuring out what major she wants to pursue so that she can accurately select a university that offers the major which best suits her interests. It just gets more and more complicated the older she gets.
This is obviously excluding the small number of those who know exactly what they want to do in life. Most people are not blessed with that same sort of clarity. What do I want to do with my life? What am I good at? Where will that major take me? ? ? Question after question is asked, but our problem is that we are not asking ourselves the right questions. We’re assuming that once we enter into a field that we’re stuck there forever. We’re assuming that attending university right after high school is the best move. We as a nation just have it all wrong.
For the last 6 years of my life that girl has been wrestling with these questions and letting confusion, ignorance, and stress to dominate her life. Well that girl was and is me. I’ve discovered in these last several years that I was looking at life through a set of foggy, cracked glasses.
I believe that life is far from resembling a linear line. It is foolish and restrictive to think that there is a right way of walking out life. To think that kids must go to college right after graduating high school is destructive and the consequences of rushing straight into a major are highly negative. I wish I just let myself take off 3 years before going to college to explore and dabble around in different areas. I believe this extra time would lift this fog of confusion I and so many others live in for so long.
I also think that we’re limiting ourselves to a select few of careers to choose from. There’s a lot more out there than we think and just doing some research might be useful. Collegeboard.com is a useful resource but it doesn’t provide a wide range of jobs to choose from. Just google “interesting or fun jobs” to find several resources that definitely opened my mind. My favorite website that I had used as a resource was http://www.interestingjobs.org.
Another thing that has helped me get through this time of my life is accepting the fact that it is okay and normal to switch careers. Just because I choose something in this season of my life does not at all mean that I cannot choose to hop on a different path some years from now. What I choose for this season does not have to be permanent.
It has taken me SO long to sit back and relax. It has taken me SO long to accept the fact that I’m not like everyone else and therefore I am going to do things differently. It is OKAY to be different and take a different path than to follow the road everyone else is going down.
This is what my life has looked like:
-Travel and attend a 6 month Discipleship Training School through Youth With a Mission in Australia and Malaysia
-Attend West Chester University for 2 years (most of this time was somewhat miserable… I didn’t enjoy it very much at all)
-Move to California and put university on hold
I tried to do what everyone else was doing and it totally didn’t work. Be encouraged that you are different and university right out of high school (or just any university at all) might not be right for you. Trying to conform is always awful and you’ll lose a part of yourself in the process.
Advice if you’re confused and don’t know what to do:
1 Make an actual or a mental list of things that you enjoy
2 Make an actual or a mental list of things that you know you’re good at (where have you received positive feedback from teachers?parents?friends?)
3 Compare these lists… are there any commonalities?
4 Get a job where you can use and develop these talents/gifts (I’m not talking about a “legit” job that requires a degree. Maybe it’s something as simple as being a receptionist, personal assistant, or being a waitress)
5 Keep a journal and regularly update it (writing in it a minimum of 3 times per week)! This is SO important!!
6 Pick up hobbies and keep switching it up. Curious about photography? Get your hands on a camera (don’t buy one until you’ve been at it for at least 6 months and decide the investment would actually be worth it) and start taking photos. Come up with creative and unique projects that you can do. After 16-24 weeks, even if you enjoyed the last hobby you picked up, put this hobby/project on the back burner and pick up something else you’re curious about. Maybe it’s knitting? Keep doing this until you’ve had experience messing around in different areas. I’d say give yourself 2 years so that you can really delve into 4-6 areas.
7 Once you’re done with this fun journey (the time will definitely fly by) sit down, look at your journal, and start asking yourself questions. Which hobby did I write about the most? During which period of time did I seem to be the happiest? What new talents/potential did I display? How could I practically use these newly discovered gifts? How can I SERVE other people with these gifts?
Give it a go… how could it hurt? I didn’t think of this till right now when I started writing so as I begin this process I will let ya’ll know how I do! What do you think about these ideas? Are you going to give it a shot? Let me know how it goes!!