How to Figure Out What To Do With Your Life or at Least What To Study in College
(22/365) How To Figure Out What To Do With Your Life Or At Least What To Study In College From A College Student Whose Been Through It
What are you going to do with your life? This question once haunted me, but now I love being asked it. It’s an opportunity for me to showcase my confidence in my own direction. I was lucky to have a sudden epiphany when watching a film, my junior year if high school, and midway through thinking, “Yeah, I want to do that. I’d like to make something like that.” Not all of us are so lucky. Where are you going to go to school? What are you going to study? It seems like as soon as you start figuring out the whole ‘high school thing’, your parents and teachers are forcing you to make crazy decisions, way above what your sheltered, ‘barely able to decide what clothes to to wear in the morning’ self can handle. This decision is one of the most important of your life. How are you supposed to figure it out before you even get out of high school? Although no one can make this decision for and it is extremely important that you DO make this yourself, there are a few things you can do ease the struggle or perhaps speed up your own epiphany.
1. Figure out how to get paid doing what you like. This may seem like the most obvious piece of advice ever, but that’s because it’s the absolute truth. You would be surprised how many things you think are just hobbies could actually be turned into full-time careers. Do you like to watch movies? You can buy a dslr for a few hundred dollars and start making your own tomorrow. Like playing video games? There are a ridiculous amount of different jobs within that. You can make those too, you know? Like music? Learn guitar, become a musician, music teacher, compose scores for films and video games or become an agent or promoter. The age of work on the weekdays and hobbies on the weekend is over. The internet provides an insane amount of information… for free. Software, skills, talents, collaborators, whatever. It’s all out there and with a little bit of work ethic you can turn your entire week into a weekend, every day doing what you love the most. If you are already passionate about something then just get really really good at it. People will pay you to do it. I promise.
2. Figure out who you are. It’s rather difficult to decide what to do for the rest of your life when you don’t even know who you are as a person. This can be especially difficult for kids in high school. This is such a monumental time of change and growth. Even though it is possible to pick up the necessary skills along the way, it’s easier to start by thinking about what you currently like to do, where you excel. For instance, do you hate dealing with children? Then a teacher is probably not wise choice for you. Are you always arguing with your parents? Maybe you would make a good lawyer. These are very obvious examples, but go deeper, really think about this. What can you do that others can’t? What do people praise you for? What’s a job where those skills would be effective?
One of the best ways to really figure out who you are is by taking a personality test. I’m talking about the official, psychologist-recommended Myers-Briggs test – not the five question ad on the side of your Facebook.
Here’s a link for the test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
Trust me, this test knows you better than you know yourself.
Once you figure out what your personality type is, go here and they will recommend jobs that fit your individual skill set:
If you have no idea, just follow this and you are 300% better off. Also, people change. It may be pertinent to take a few of these along the road.
3. Try things out. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car before you took it for a test drive, you wouldn’t pick a major or job before you tried it. Go volunteer in the field you’re thinking, ask someone actually doing it if you could shadow them for a few days, watch a documentary about it. Maybe grab an internship for a semester. In high school, I was in an internship program with a girl who had for years had her heart set on becoming a doctor. After a few days of helping out at a local hospital, she realized that she actually “hated sick people”. You may think you have a pretty good idea about what someone does, but that may only be part of it, the big picture. You probably have no idea what their day-to-day life actually consists of.
4. Pick something that’s employable and just go with it. This is my least favorite piece of advice, but having some direction is better than none. You can always change your mind (or major) down the road, but for now just do something! What’s a popular major at the school you’re looking at? What subject did you make good grades in in school? What’s the least detestable profession when you search for majors with the lowest employment rate? People change their minds all time, everyone changes their major. No one says you have to stick with the decision your 17 year old self made in a stressful meeting with your parents and the school counselor. There is absolutely no shame in changing your mind. In fact, it’s honorable. It means you are actually thinking realistically about your future. However, if you are unsure then make sure you don’t pick a super-specialized or liberal arts school with only a handful of majors. Go to a big, in-state school. Don’t go out of state, if you aren’t sure you know what you want to study. What if you want to change your mind, but the school doesn’t have the major you want. You just wasted a lot of money. Don’t go halfway across the nation just because you like the school. It’s more important how the school ranks for that specific major than it is how the school ranks overall.
5. Stop worrying about it and just go live. I cannot stress this enough. It’s going to be okay, stop stressing out. There comes a point where you over-analyze your decisions so much that there exists literally no right decision. The future is unknown. You can’t know what you’re going to be doing in 10 years. You may not even be using that degree you stressed out so much for. If you are hard-working, curious, and a genuine person then I’m sure you will end up alright. Who you are is so so so much more important than what you’re doing. I know there’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to make these decisions, but it’s ok not to know, it’s natural. Some of the best people I know have no clue what they’re going to do with their lives. Go outside, make friends, experience other cultures, have adventures. You don’t have to go to college right away. You can take a year and travel, get to know yourself outside of your parent’s web of protection and routine. Some colleges may give you credit for doing this. It’s called a Gap Year. Your own happiness and the happiness of the people around you that you care about are the only things that truly matters.