DOES IT BOTHER YOU? Slow down: Your career can wait a little longer


Staff Photo by Gabby Angelo

Students are unfairly pressured to choose a job at such a young age.

There is one question that haunts the brains of high school students worldwide. This question creates a sense of fear in the success of one’s future, and one simple sentence can send some students into a panicking spiral: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Even from a young age, this question has been common. In kindergarten, this age-old question used to foster responses like princesses, basketball players and pop stars. But at some point in our lives, responses got more serious. 

Everyone around me seems to have pinpointed exactly what they want to study in college and what dream job they want afterward—no longer an award-winning actress and a world- renowned quarterback, but now a doctor and a lawyer and a teacher. But what if I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do in real life, and this looming question continues to be held over my head?

High schoolers already face tremendous pressure, and the question only adds to the stress. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” is now really about how you want to live the remainder of your life, and students are supposed to already have this figured out by the time they walk into the halls of high school. Colleges stress the importance of having one passion that you know you are going to pursue, but the added pressure of deciding what life you want to live for the rest of your existence is a weighted decision for anyone, especially at the ripe ages of 14, 15, 16 and 17.

Some people know exactly what they want to do. They decide on a job, usually at a young age, and stick to it. Commonly, these people don’t exactly know what the jobs entail. Even the people that seem to have their lives together will likely not end up pursuing the career that they have claimed since middle school. This does not go to say that no one will end up with the job that they want, but a large percentage of people surely will change their mind once or twice or 10 times before landing on the perfect career. 

But honestly, not knowing what your future holds is sometimes better. Instead of seeing this as indecisiveness, I choose to think of it as a way to allow your brain to fully develop before you can decide your final path. You have an opportunity to try different things and experiences to pinpoint exactly what job will make you happy. Despite the enormous pressure to decide your whole future at such a young age, you have time. 

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be someone who hasn’t rushed their youth and doesn’t feel the need to obsessively stick to the first career I pick. Instead, I am able to try out a few childhood dreams, like being a pop star, before rushing into the strained reality of adulthood.