The struggle of growing up without a path.
When i was younger the teachers asked us the usual question on what we wanted to be when we got older; doctors, teachers, firefighters, the typical answers you’d expect from elementary kids. Then there was me, even as a child I never had an idea of what I wanted to be. As you grow older and move on to high school you begin taking classes of your choice and learn more about where to go in life. The troubling issue for me was that I liked all of my class topics (minus a few monotonous teachers who ruined the class, you know the ones). I never ‘hated math’ or ‘hated english’ and although I was by no means the most brilliant kid in any of my classes, I enjoyed learning about all topics in school.
For my electives I chose classes like criminology, media studies, engineering, digital electronics, and graphic design. I spent my days as an athlete participating in wrestling and football, I spend my nights playing video games for hours on end letting out my inner nerd. It’s safe to say that I had a wide array of interests. Now that was the point of high school, going through phases and taking different classes because its all about exposing various avenues where you can then decide to travel to college (or the workforce, technical school, etc.) and become more knowledgable about the area you choose.
High school came to an end, the anxious thoughts of college crept in and people started planning where to go and what they were gonna pursue. Some went off to chase the dreams they had since elementary of becoming that doctor or earning that teaching degree. Then there was me, I knew I ‘had’ to pick something so I picked one of the many interests I had, computers. I thought I would go to college to pursue computer science. After all, It was the perfect answer for people’s golden question, “What are you gonna go to school for?”. But the truth was that I had no clue what I wanted to do and still felt that choosing only one thing was terrifying. I felt that I didn’t have a specific niche and I wasn’t cut out for one straight road through life.
Here I am today, my third year in college, confidently studying philosophy with sights set on going to law school upon graduation. You could say things have changed a bit. They definitely have, I’ve learned even more about myself and it makes sense I’d end up in the college of liberal arts. Here’s the dirty little secret, I STILL don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life or what my true ‘passion’ is. The ‘phase’ of having many interests has no longer become a phase but rather a piece to the puzzle of who I am.
Now don’t think for a second that I haven’t taken the time to research careers or interests and that I am just living life on whim; I have spent endless hours taking things like the Myers Briggs personality test, career counseling, meeting with lawyers and professionals at networking events, and self-research. I am taking all of the right precautions and work extremely hard to learn and prepare for my future. I agree that having a plan and chasing a goal is always important, but accepting that it may not be where I end up is crucial.
Beyond just a job there are always opportunities and outlets to express yourself and chase what makes you happy. The most toxic thing you can do is be who you are told to be and follow where you feel you’re expected to go. Expectations set by your family, society, and even your closest friend group are always going to be there but nobody understands you like you understand yourself. I offer no single solution because there isn’t one, never has been. Life is a different journey for everybody but coming from a person who gets obsessed with a multitude of things, this is what I’ve discovered:
It’s okay to not have a single passion and being uncertain is something to embrace.
The key is to stop searching for your passion. If you’re like me you weren’t born with one single passion. Sure there are the ones who seek one direction their whole life and end up completely fulfilled and happy, good for them! But for the rest of us life is about not just finding yourself but creating yourself. It is an amazing thing to have an eclectic personality and there is nothing wrong with not walking a unilateral path. For me, I remain passionate about almost everything I do, my interests develop and change but I never lose the passion that is contained in them.
The truth behind the dirtiest secret of all is that the majority of people don’t have it figured out either (at all ages) and the more time you spend pretending you do have it figured out the less time you have to really explore and enjoy your many interests. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort boundaries and try something your friends could never see you doing. Whether you’re that biomedical engineering student who wants to try and learn how to sculpt a clay statue or you’re that musical genius who wants to learn more about quantum mechanics, go for it! Especially now that I’m in college I’ve learned there are endless opportunities and exploring different outlets has become extraordinarily inspiring. The trick is to remain open to change, never let yourself become stagnant and always add your own little ‘touch of curiosity’.
— Bryce A. Hoyt
Click here for an awesome TED talk that gives more insight on the notion of ‘finding your passion’.