How Can I Figure Out What to Do with My Life?
Dear Advice King,
I'm almost done with college, and I still have no idea what to do with my life. It seems like all of my peers already have everything figured out; I feel as though I've "missed the boat" in some way. The problem is, everything interests me, so it's hard to imagine myself doing only one thing. How can I choose an area in which to start a career? At what age do I become a loser if I haven't decided yet?
- Lifelong Learner
Allow me to preface this by saying that you are never too old to learn something new, take a different direction or start a fresh career. The idea that you must go to college immediately after high school, finish in four years or less and suddenly have your life totally mapped out is kind of a crock to me.
If you’re one of the lucky few who can pull it off then I give you “mad props,” as I think the kids say these days. For the rest of us, it’s just not that simple.
It sounds as though some people view your uncertainty is as a weakness, and you’ve allowed others’ opinions about what you should do with your life shame you into doubting yourself.
News flash: The judgments of others are short-sighted because no one will ever have more information about your strengths, passions, plans and dreams than you do.
It’s natural to care what your family and friends think, but remember that the ultimate voice that matters is your own.
Rather than comparing your educational and career paths with those of your peers and worrying that you are behind, rejoice in your love of seeking knowledge, as it sets you apart from the majority — which consists largely of complacent people who are settling for lowest-common-denominator existences.
Plus, you should be proud; it takes a lot of courage to be true to yourself when it would be much easier to fulfill the status quo.
Accepting that a clear direction hasn’t yet shown itself and disengaging from any rhetoric suggesting that something is wrong with you is essential to setting yourself free from the chains of other people’s expectations.
Having said all of that, it’s important to balance your ambitions with a sense of reality. Obviously, you need money to eat, pay rent and do anything else that your life might necessitate. So, get a job that pays the bills and realize that it’s just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Becoming a loser shouldn’t be a worry of yours. A loser has no direction, and more importantly, no desire to find one.
That clearly doesn’t describe you. Whatever age you are when it happens, when you find what you are most passionate about, you’ll know. It will feel as natural as breathing.
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