Throughout our final years in high school we are asked what we plan to do after graduating. Some will go to university, some will want to travel, and some will have absolutely no idea what they want. The problem is, society forces the idea down your throat that you need to have a plan. As soon as you graduate from high school you need to know what you’re doing. Or at least have a vague idea of what you’re passionate about. Parents, friends, teachers, they all play a part in making you feel like you need to have your whole life mapped out before you turn twenty.
So, whether you’re still in school, at uni or somewhere in between, not really knowing what to do, here’s some advice:
It’s okay to have no idea what you want out of life.
It’s okay to not know what your passion is yet.
It’s okay to not go to university.
And It’s okay to be terrified of your future.
I have met so many young people who have just panicked and chosen a random major at uni because they don’t know what they want to do. “It’s better than doing nothing,” they say. But they look absolutely miserable at the thought of going to university and studying something they’re not even passionate about for the next three years. There’s no point going to uni just because you think that’s what you should be doing or because you feel you’re going to be left behind. From my own experience, you might end up hating university life, drop out and have wasted your own time and money.
You don’t need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life in your twenties. In fact, I know people in their forties who still don’t know what they want to do. So, why put additional pressure on yourself to have your whole life planned out? Stop agonising about your next move, do not feel you need to make life altering decisions while you’re so young and try spend more time enjoying your time on this Earth for what it is.
If you want to work at your part time job for a few years while your figure yourself out, then do it! Spend time with your family, explore your own town, relax on the beach, laugh with your friends, read a book, start a blog, work your crappy retail job and make that money. Take every day as it comes. There’s no secret to a successful life. Everybody is trying to find their own path to happiness and nobody has it all figured out (even if it seems like they do!). Stop comparing yourself to your friends and realise that it’s okay to do your own thing and it’s okay to not have a clue what you’re doing.
Change your perspective on what it means to not have a life plan. Or any plan at all. Don’t think of it as a burden, or disappointing. Think of it as complete and utter freedom. Think of it as a time to reinvent yourself, a chance to relax and to enjoy your life for what it is. Pursue things that make you happy right now, not what might make you happy in the future. Take the time to look after your mental health, practice self-care, focus on your happiness now and worry about the rest later.
So, when the next time somebody asks you “What’s your plan?” You can reply with “I don’t know, but I’m going to enjoy figuring it out” and make it will sound like a new adventure: because that’s exactly what it is.
Illustration by Aileen, you can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc