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We are consistently asked at a very young age, "what do you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter? A doctor? A veterinarian?" as if our eight-year-old selves will depict our future career path. Realistically, only six percent of the human population end up with the career they wanted as a kid. Perhaps this is because as a child, there are only handful occupations they know about—ones you would find in a storybook or maybe the career you're working towards now didn't quite exist yet. On the other hand, more than twenty-five percent of students are struggling to even obtain their high school diploma. I've had friends who found it unnecessary to finish high school and decide to raise a family instead, I've had friends who left their college programs to work a minimum wage job, I've had friends graduate university and not even make use of their degree and others who have graduated and immediately started pursuing a position in the career they earned. Each of these situations are all equally okay. Maybe we didn't end up where we hoped we would be or maybe we aren't the people we wanted to become, but that is alright.
At seventeen years old, I had to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and truthfully I had no idea. I threw myself into a college program that I wasn't really sure of, I just liked the idea of the profession. I ended up doing really well in my first semester of college, I had a high grade-point-average and I was SO motivated. A few months went by and I couldn't tell you what happened, I hated the subjects, and I didn't have very many friends in the program, so I guess that may have contributed to why I didn't want to keep studying anymore. I made the rash decision to leave, two weeks before my final exams where I could have potentially completed my first year of college. Words cannot describe how much of a disappointment I felt like to myself, my parents, and everyone else that continuously asked me about my program. But I wasn't learning, I was regurgitating facts, in no way was I understanding concepts. I was the most unhappy I have ever been in my life. Constantly eating my feelings and sleeping until an unreasonable time in the evening. My family members always thought I would be successful, I always had a plan, but for the first time in my life, I was truly lost. I was constantly questioned, "what's your plan now?" I took a year away from school and killed off multiple versions of myself; the girl who wanted to be a dental hygienist, an x-ray technician, a respiratory therapist, and a flight attendant. Realistically, I was only a drop out who kept quitting and abandoning different directions of life. So here I am again, throwing myself into a program that I don't really know much about but this time I have faith in myself and I know that I don't need a piece of paper or anybody else's' validation to be happy.
So many other people younger than me, the same age as me and older than me go through the same thought process daily. So many of us are afraid to let go of a lifestyle that doesn't make them happy because they're worried they won't end up successful. The truth is, it's really hard to know what's going to make you happy for the rest of your life, let alone five years from now, but you do know what makes you happy now. College isn't for everyone, there are plenty of people who have become successful without it. Life is about trying, so try and make all the mistakes you need to in order to find out who and where you're meant to be in life. Don't feel guilty if you aren't sure what you want to do with your life; some people don't know until they're forty years old, it's entirely natural. Don't allow one thing to define your entire life, remember life is more than just your education.