Aspirations or Lack Thereof

Jennie - Guston, Kentucky
Entered on April 29, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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It’s taken me a long time to really come to grips with the fact that my life has no direction. I’ve been through eighteen years of friends, family, and teachers asking the same eternal question: What do you want to be when you grow up? When I was little, the answer was easy. “An astronaut,” or “an artist,” or (for a very short while when I was three) “an owl.” As I get older and am forced to think more realistically, the answer to such a question has become increasingly difficult to find, though not from lack of trying.

When I was in sixth grade, my class participated in “The Reality Store” where students pick the career that they think they will have and create and run an entire budget for a few hours. Emergencies, car payments, and mortgages abound. Not really having much of a life-plan at that point, I chose my occupation somewhat randomly.

In my school district, all middle-schoolers are required to take a careers class. The class culminates in a huge project over your selected career. Unsure of my future aspirations, I picked what looked like an interesting field and acted the part.

Finally, in high school, all freshmen are expected to take a computer applications course. Not only do students learn typing and computer skills, they also explore their prospective fields and plan out the rest of their high school courses accordingly. It was at this point that my cover was blown. I finally had to admit to my teacher, my parents, and myself, that I had absolutely no clue what the rest of my life would look like, and I wasn’t likely to receive a divine revelation any time soon. My teacher was disappointed but seemed to understand. My parents, at the other end of the spectrum, laughed that I thought I needed a definite plan at such an early stage. I felt poor without two aspirations to rub together.

Through the next few years I continued to explore my options. I swung from passion to passion, each one developing into a new career path. Every time I picked up a book, watched a movie, or talked to a teacher, I planned out a new occupation. It took many, many people telling me, and many more times hearing it for the message to sink in: it is perfectly all right that I don’t have any idea what to do with the rest of my life.

I now revel in this fact. I love the freedom that an un-confining choice of curriculum has given me. As of now, I am planning on college, and double majoring in English and Biology, two very different areas, but I no longer feel the need to design a career based on my degrees. I no longer cling to these plans as all that I have. They are what I love right now, and they are as variable as I am. I believe that having no idea is perfectly okay.