After finishing my first semester of junior year, I’m starting to hear the same question repeated by relatives, by family friends, even by my closest friends: what do you want to do to after high school? And every time, I have the same, carefully worded, immaculate response: I don’t know.
We’re constantly bombarded with this question as we get older, and there comes a time when the overzealous, dreamy response to be a ballerina or an astronaut simply doesn’t cut it any longer. Instead, people want the real deal; they want to know where you want to go to college, what you want to major in and what you want your career to be for the rest of your life. But, what if you simply don’t know?
That’s completely OK. It’s unrealistic for everyone to know exactly what they want to do with their life at a mere 16 years old and it’s impractical to suggest that everyone should know.
In fact, approximately 75 percent of college students change their major before graduating and about 20 to 50 percent enter college as “undecided,” according to Pennsylvania State University’s Division of Undergraduate Studies. Changing your major or changing what you want to do with your life is normal.
Having the opportunity to explore different areas in college is important, and should be encouraged among all students. Experiencing and immersing yourself in a variety of different subjects can help you hone in on what you’re actually interested in, and is a great way to make the decision when the time is right.
That being said, you shouldn’t feel pressured to make this decision early. Some people know from the moment they join a sports team or lead a club that that’s what they’re passionate about. For others, however, the task isn’t as simple.
Once you do come to a consensus on what you’re passionate about, remember that it does not have be absolute. And, furthermore, you can have more than one thing that you’re passionate about. There’s nothing wrong with being a dancing astronaut that decides to be a computer-savvy artist when they’re 45; do whatever makes you happy for the sole reason of keeping you happy.
Also, when you’re deciding on your career, make sure you’re not solely thinking about the salary of the money that job will bring in. While, sure, money is important, ultimately choosing a job that will keep you happy is the most important thing.
So, the next time you’re at a family dinner and the daunting question comes up again, just remember that you don’t have to come up with a fake, tentative response. You can simply not know.