Sometimes, adolescence can include pressure from parents and teachers on who to do with your life. You might have your mom or dad always asking you, “So, have you decided where you’re going to go to college?” Or your school guidance counselor might be wondering if you’ve even filled out any college applications.
It’s hard to know what you want at 16, 17, or even 18 years old. It’s important to know that you can take your time. It’s important to give yourself the time you need to discover what it is that makes you happy. And here’s why:
Many people end up going to school and then they begin in a career in that profession. But in many cases, people wished they had waited, gone traveling, or focused on what they really wanted to do versus following the advice of their parents.
For instance, Jessica grew up with her hands in the dirt. But she ignored her love for gardening and decided to get a degree in political theory. Her parents wanted her to get involved in something she could rely upon, a career path that was going to have a job for her over the long-term. Although Jessica occasionally enjoyed having political discussions with her father and felt she had a pretty good understanding of politics, she didn’t like studying and reading and learning about politics for most of her college life. She knew that she would have preferred to have learned more about gardening, permaculture, and sustainable living.
In the end, Jessica finished her degree in political theory, but she got a Master’s in Environmental Planning. She later began working at an educational garden in her community. And finally, she had the opportunity to work at an organization that used principles of permaculture to grow food for an entire community in South America. Jessica is thrilled at how her life turned out. Although she doesn’t regret getting her degree in political theory, she knew all along that she wanted to have a career related to what she loved – gardening.
And Jessica didn’t have to do anything to find what she loved. From the early years of her life, gardening was a passion. Although some teens aren’t as lucky as Jessica in knowing what they want right away, it’s important to follow what feels natural for you. Doing what you love can promote psychological health in the following ways:
- Passion gives you a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Doing what you love will fuel your energy level not drain it.
- Feeling passionate gives you strength and clarity for facing challenges.
- Following your passion helps prevent depression and anxiety.
- Passion can fuel other parts of your life.
- Living a purposeful life can help you with creating purpose in your relationships.
Of course, there may be some teens who simply don’t know what they are passionate about. They don’t know what direction to go in or what to do after high school. If this your situation, try taking a self-assessment quiz on your passions. Before taking the quiz you might want to think about what you enjoy doing. Or you may want to ask your parents what they might say is your passion. And if you’re still feeling lost, you might need to simply give yourself time, as mentioned above. You might not find your passion until you’re in your 20’s.
In the meantime, you can start by doing some soul-searching. Explore what’s important to you, those that you admire, and what you feel strongly about. This will get you going on your path of passion.