At a young age, we’re all asked the same question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer typically fluctuated between a firefighter, just like my dad, or “a Runza guy.” Now, at 19, my answer is that I want to become a music educator.
While I have decided on a career path, a lot of my peers don’t necessarily know what they want to do with their lives. We’ve been told we’re all supposed to know what we want to do by now, but, honestly, it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life.
Our perspective of what we want to pursue is obviously going to change over the years, as our brains and general personalities are constantly morphing into something different. This cycle continues until the day we die. As well all go through the motions of life, we experience different things, and our decisions are influenced by personal experiences. These experiences ultimately shape our perspective as to what we want to pursue. In short, you can like something one day but have an experience that will change that passion.
Psychologically speaking, the adolescent brain is not fully developed when it comes to decision making. Adolescents are quicker to jump to conclusions and partake in impulsive decisions. When your brain is more developed later on in adulthood, you begin to think more for yourself and your future.
The expectation to make a decision on what you want to do for the rest of your life is extremely high. As the adolescent brain is not fully matured yet, this contributes to the fact that teen brains are more vulnerable to high amounts of stress. Several of my peers and I can recount days and nights loaded with confusion and stress of what we want to do with our lives.
With class registration for next semester coming up soon, this adds to the stress, especially for freshmen. Within this past year and potentially next year, the job market has changed drastically for college graduates, as it’s been more difficult to find jobs because of the pandemic.
With the job market changing now, what will it look like in the next couple of years? Are all students guaranteed the job they want or something equivalent? It’s something that’s so ambiguous and should be taken seriously, but we should not have such high expectations on freshmen and sophomores to make a decision that can affect their life.
There’s also an added expectation that all high school seniors should go to college, which is absolutely outlandish. College is not for everyone, and that is okay. It doesn’t always work out for everyone either and there’s no problem with this whatsoever.
The world needs people who don’t go to college, and the world needs people who are blue-collar workers. There are thousands of careers that you can successfully pursue without a college degree that require some training.
These careers can range anywhere from food service to construction. At base level, blue-collar workers are the people that help keep our country running. Think about the cabbage burger you get at Runza, or think about the next time you use the light switch in your bedroom. It’s the people that keep restaurants running and the people that keep your lights on that are just as important as your professors or doctors. The blue-collar workers that run the country are just as important as the workers who spend four years at a university and then go into the workforce.
Please know that, at this time, you don’t necessarily have to know right off the bat what you want to do with the rest of your life. Things change, and that’s okay.
Stressing out about the future is not worth it. Right now, I want to be a music teacher, but maybe in the future I’ll end up changing my career path and working at Runza. Either choice is totally okay.
Adam Flowers is a freshman music education major. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org