Coming into the second semester, this is a time where a lot of people, first years and upper years alike, tend to ask themselves some tough questions concerning their program and being in school in general. For a lot of people, exams can serve as a major wake up call or a slap in the face. Now with grades coming back, your classes might be getting a lot emptier, as a lot of people take this opportunity to re-evaluate the program they chose or even whether post secondary is right for them.
One thing that we all heard relentlessly while in high school was, “what are you going to do after you graduate?” Questions about our futures, our career aspirations, what we want to study in college or university and so on are all shoved in our faces from the time we’re 14 or 15 years old, a bit young to decide the rest of our lives if you ask me.
The problem isn’t necessarily the age, but it’s more specifically about knowing ourselves. Most people have no idea who they really are until they’re well into their 20’s or 30’s, let alone at 15. In high school most of us have very few responsibilities or independence; most of the time you’re still living at home, you don’t own a car or don’t even have your license for that matter, some people don’t even have part-time jobs when they’re in high school.
Our lives up to that point are shaped entirely by our family, our friends and our teachers, leaving little time for most people to really know who they are. That’s what can make deciding your future so difficult, especially at a young age. If you don’t really know yourself, how can you make such an important decision that will dictate your future career path so significantly.
That’s why so many people often drop out of school or switch their programs. That type of indecision usually comes from learning about yourself, it would just be better if it happened earlier. We should try and encourage more introspection and self reflection to the benefit of everybody. So many people make some of their most consequential decisions without giving it any legitimate thought. It’s not their own fault, it’s because society forces these decisions on young people too soon.
I knew friends back in high school who chose post-secondary programs on a whim and none of those people are still in those programs, some of them have dropped out entirely. Those are precious years and often thousands of dollars spent just to find yourself. Pumping the breaks and having taken a few years to work and think it through could have done the same thing.
We need to make young people more aware of the options and be less concerned with making the right decision today. Giving some breathing room and comfort in not being entirely sure what you want to do seems like a simple thing, yet so many people are thrown head first into a university program they don’t want to do or a full time job that they aren’t interested in. Where is the middle ground?
We need to have some independent experiences and take on opportunities that allow us to have a sense of responsibility or purpose that is disconnected from our friends and family. Taking some time to learn about yourself and the way that you absorb information, the things you like and so on is so critical if you want to live a happy and fulfilled life as you grow up. This is a foreign concept to a lot of people.
Is this to say that if you do this you’ll never make mistakes or change your mind? Of course not. But it’s always better to challenge an assumption or preconceived notion that you’ve established about yourself then to make it up as you go along. Of course people change, but more often I think that we are discovering ourselves for the first time, which is considerably less productive.
So I hope that while everyone’s taking this time to question their life choices and hide their final marks from their parents, they would take the time to get to know themselves. It’s not until you get to know yourself that you’ll be able to plan for your future in a way that will make you truly happy.