In elementary school, I remember receiving a blank book that gave prompts that I’d fill in using pictures or sentences. Some of the empty spaces would encourage me to write down facts about myself, such as “My favorite color is” or “My hobbies are.” I was stuck when the book asked, “What do you want to be when you’re older?” I stared at the page for a long time before scribbling, “I don’t know” and moved on.
In middle school, I was given a test that claimed to pick your profession for you. The test consisted of a bubble-sheet where you’d fill in whatever letter best matched the question that was asked. I remember going into the test with a lot of confidence. At that point, I was 13 and was anxious about my future. It was silly to think that a piece of paper could decide the rest a person’s life, but I filed out the entire sheet with enthusiasm. The test said I’d be a firefighter.
Upon entering high school, the anxiety worsened. I coasted through freshman and sophomore year without a single thought about my future. Junior and senior year, I ignored suggestions from my parents to start thinking about college. I didn’t take any standardized tests seriously, and had no interest in applying for any AP courses. I wished I were born with a plan that mapped out the rest of my life.
I envied the friends who knew exactly what profession they wanted to enter or what major they were going to pick in college. I felt a lot of resentment toward my senior year of high school, and was jealous of my two older brothers, who had both decided where they were going after we all graduated together. One was following my father’s footsteps and joining the military, while the other was going off to college to study computer science. I wasn’t able to attend art school due to financial issues, and had to resort to community college. The anger and confusion coupled with the uncertainty of my future left me feeling drained and apathetic.
It’s unrealistic to expect young adults/adolescents to feel as if they need a plan. At 18, it was a miracle that I’d get out of bed and feed myself, let alone declare a major or pick a career. A lot of people felt the same way. Now 21, I came to Baltimore thinking I knew what I wanted to do. Maybe I was wrong.
I’m still left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I’m under the impression that I can’t change a major or switch colleges again because it’s already “too late.” I picked something I’m passionate about, but am unsure if it’s what I really want to do. I love video games. It’s a wonderful medium, one that has great potential as a platform for education and introducing new ideas. But I don’t think there’s a place for me in that industry. I’m not good at coding, and I’m beginning to realize that I enjoy art as a hobby and not as a potential job. I’m stuck.
It’s hard coming to terms with the fact that life is not a straight road. In reality, you may need to make a pit stop for a couple of months, or even years. You may have to switch vehicles, and that’s okay. Life is too unpredictable to map it out with precision.