I wasted so much time in my early twenties trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When you’re a kid, adults always ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer is I don’t know.
I didn’t know. There were a lot of things I liked to do, a lot of things I’m good at. But are those the things that I will do with my life? To make a living?
When I was 13 I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I love studying English and grammar and literature, I thought I could turn that love into a career. When I got older and realized that no one cares about those things like I do and the living wage of a teacher reflects that notion. People in this country just do not care about academics. They only care if they have to. What I mean by that is people who have to get a degree or certification in the field they want to go into.
That was the most discouraging thing about my deciding to give up the dream of being a teacher. Yes, it is a noble profession and I am so grateful for those who take it on. I cannot believe how poorly teachers are paid in this country. I just didn’t see it being a worthwhile career for me.
Without my dream of becoming a teacher I felt lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time. I would go back and forth on ideas for possible careers. There’s so much pressure to know what you want to do right out of high school. There’s so much pressure to make a good living, to be viewed as a successful human being. There’s not enough encouragement to young people to find what makes them happy, what makes them feel fulfilled.
I will be 30 in November and I am just now figuring out what I want to do. Yes, I beat myself up about not figuring it out sooner, but in your early twenties you don’t know what you want. You’re still young, you’re still discovering who you are. How are you supposed to know what to do with the rest of your life in the first 20 years? And who’s to say I’m right? What if I decide to change career paths in my forties?
I think we put too much pressure on ourselves. I think we should say it’s okay to not have it all figured out. We grow, we change, we want to do something new every now and again. And that’s okay.
“‘Finding yourself’ is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. A remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.” -Emily McDowell
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