by Hannah Adamson
The teenage years seem to be a loosely defined bridge between childhood and adulthood. It is a time when adolescents start to gain new independence and responsibilities. That said, it can be overwhelming to grow into these new roles and prepare for the future.
While it may not be intentional, I feel that society places pressure on teens to know what they want to do with their lives and have a plan on how to accomplish it. High schools’ focus on the future—rigorous academic schedules, career aptitude tests, standardized tests—is intended to help teens pursue their goals. As a young teen, however, I found it overwhelming to think about what I wanted to do with my life. It was exciting in all its possibility, but also intimidating to think I had to have it all figured out.
Talking to my peers, I found that this fear of uncertainty is not uncommon. I thought that I had to have my mind made up on what career I wanted to pursue; turns out I was wrong. While it is good to have an idea of what field interests you, it is healthy to keep an open mind and investigate other options. I have not always known what career I wanted to pursue and have flip-flopped between different ideas. In times of uncertainty I felt anxious that I had no specific path to follow, but I now realize that with uncertainty comes opportunity. In pursuing various interests, I have learned about many fields of study and appreciate how different subjects often intermingle. Having a wide array of information has not only increased my knowledge, but has also expanded my perspective. Taking courses in many different areas and exploring various options may lead you to discover what makes you tick.
A few years ago, I spoke with someone about terrorism and how upset I felt about the loss of innocent lives. I explained my frustration about people not finding peace in the commonality of humanity. In response she said, “Sometimes what frustrates us the most is indicative of our passion.” That statement helped me realize that my frustration with human discord could actually be a career path. I had always felt I wanted to help people, but I then knew my fascination with current events, human interaction and the environment could come together to enable me to do just that. I feel that I have found my passion, but do not necessarily know where it will lead me. I remain open to new opportunities and experiences. I remain open to change.
Bottom line: it’s okay to not have a definitive plan of what you want to do after graduating high school. What is important is that you do something—talk to others about their passions, ask for advice, learn a trade, take different classes. Be open to altering your way of thinking; be brave enough to give “it” a try, whatever “it” may be. However, while it is important to think about and plan for the future, teenage years should not be lost to a focus on adulthood; we have the rest of our lives to be adults! Teens are still “kids” and need time to simply be kids—time to explore, grow and mature so we can then embrace the path we choose with confidence.
Hannah Adamson is a senior in high school. She practices meditation and takes ThetaHealing courses with Reshma Shah in Westfield, New Jersey. March 2019