As a teenager/young adult there’s this constant pressure. It’s always, which college are you going to? What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you going to major in? And a whole other slew of questions that at their core all revolve around the same question:
What are you going to do/be next?
I love and hate that question with a passion.
Partly because I ask myself that so much. And I’m so intrigued by the potential of the future, the possibilities that literally seem endless sometimes. But I’m also so tired of myself and sometimes those around me moving on so quickly. Of judging me based on my potential and future plans. Of not being able to just sit back in this stage of life and not look to the next.
So if you’re wondering…
- Am I heading in the right direction? What am I even aiming for? What should I be aiming for?
- How does my school/future career play into that?
- How do my passions and interests play into that? How do I find my passions in the first place?
You’re in the right place.
The Goal of Your Teenage Years
A lot of the time most of us feel the need to accomplish it all right now. Get those A’s, get that internship, get that friendship, win that championship, this week, or this month.
But beyond this week, or month, or even year, there are seasons. Seasons in life that break it into chunks, seasons meant to guide you.
And as a teenager or young person, your dominant obligation to yourself and those around you right now is to grow. Not produce.
Whether you have a passion and are wondering whether to pursue it, or you’re still on your journey to finding one, don’t feel obligated to decide your whole life right now. Or commit to one single passion/major/career right now.
A lack of playing around, developing your character, and growing your knowledge can hurt you in the long run. According to Dr. Stuart Brown from Stanford, “Whenever the unique, intrinsic motivation of the child is not honored and the child is lock-stepped into a performance to please the adult ambition model, something very precious and authentic for that child’s future is lost… or at least needs to be recovered later. A child’s intrinsic motivation is driven by play, which really begins to shape who and what they are. Thus, when play is not given a fair shake, the individual loses something very important.”
So experiment. Go play. Give yourself the time and space to test things out without committing (this doesn’t apply to relationships). To try things that might not be as “you”, and to find what you actually like and don’t like. And yes we try to shortcut this by reading about things or watching about them, but literally just going and actually getting involved in them is the best way to go.
After doing a lot of playing and learning about yourself, you’ll be glad you took longer to find what fits you before committing and settling down to really devote years and years of effort, time, and money to it. But most importantly, you’ll be happier with the you that you know are because of all the growing and playing you did.
Who You Are > What You Do
At the end of the day, when we’re really questioning where we’re going to be or what we’re going to do in the future, it’s easy to get caught up in the what and miss the why.
It’s not where you work/go to school or what your specific job/pursuits in life are right now that matter the most.
What really matters is why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it (Are you giving it your all? Are you sticking to your values and priorities?), and who that makes you.
So what can you do right now to implement that?
As writer Jaquelle Ferris says, “Focus on faithfulness where you are… right now. Transitions between seasons of life tend to happen organically. You don’t want to rush ahead. But if you’re being faithful, patient, and diligent, life won’t leave you behind”.
Give yourself the space to play, and see who that makes you.