We're repeatedly told that we need to decide what to do with our life. Whether by parents, family, school or the media, we should know what we want to do by 18.
If you think about it, it's a huge thing to have your life plan at an age where you have 70 years or so left of your life. Why are we so pushed to become doctors, teachers, geologists, or whatever society or parents tell us to do? What if you could finish school and have a couple of years to figure things out?
For me, these reasons have been the response to disappointment after disappointment; one failed job, to another; barriers put up on either side. But after looking back on those two years, I wouldn't go back and do it differently.
Here are those three reasons why you don't have to have your life sorted by 20.
1. You're going to grow up immensely during this time
When you're fresh out of school at 18, you're mentally still very young. You've probably seen a bit of the world on family holidays, had a part-time job, made some good friends in school. But what have you done with your life at this point? You're practically still a kid.
According to neuroscientists, brain development doesn't fully finish until age 25. The cortex, the part of the brain that helps plan and organise your behaviour to reach a goal is only halfway through developing by age 18. That doesn't mean we have to wait until 25 to start planning our life, but it does mean realising you don't have it all worked out by 18.
Seeing a bit of the world, volunteering with a charity or getting some work experience will mentally prepare you for a career commitment. Instead of just testing the waters to become an environmental lawyer, you'll have a list of why it's important to you, with first-hand experience seeing those problems.
2. Work experience will change your life
We all do work experience in school. At fifteen, we're babysitting seven-year-olds while the teacher gets her notes together. We stand around a doctors surgery fetching coffee and smiling at patients. What is this helping us do?
Work experience is a golden ticket to decide what you want and don't want to do in life. My girlfriend wanted to be a florist last year, so she worked in a flower shop for a couple of months. She enjoyed it in some ways, but in the end, it wasn't what she wanted to do, and she decided to take a different path. Many people will say this is a waste of time; at the age of 20, it's better to know you don't want to do something than committing and wasting money and time on something you have no experience with.
3. Life isn't short
Isn't the phrase: 'life is short'? Yes, but life isn't a competition; it's not a race. Life is a marathon, there are hard bits, and there are easy bits, but we'll only reach the finish line if we've trained properly. This training comes before even starting the race.
Traning for some people can take only a few months, for others, it an take a few years. You need to know that it is worth it if you can make the experience more enjoyable.
Take the time to train correctly, whatever that might mean to you.
"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us". ~ Joseph Campbell
It's not easy to go off on a different path, especially with expectations breathing down your neck. But is it worth it? Yes. How do I know? I've been there and done that. I am not the same person I was two years ago, but I am a better person because of what I've experienced.
Just remember, take it slow, and train properly. In the end, you will find the time you took to travel, work and plan will help you immensely through the next chapter.
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