The expectation for many students going through high school is that you go to uni afterwards, graduate with a degree, get a job, have a family then live a happily ever after. Forget Cinderella or Keeping Up with the Kardashians; this is a modern day expectation underpinned and driven by one idea only:
Knowing what you want to do.
Ah yes, the dreaded decision, the doomsday ultimatum, the deciding factor which can determine whether or not you’re a successful, interesting somebody or unworthy, lost nobody.
Allow me to be that annoying person who says all of that is 100% rubbish, 110% false and 1000% overrated for these four reasons.
- If you want to go to uni, it’s more flexible than you think.
There are thousands of jobs out there that don’t require a university degree. There also thousands of jobs that do. When it comes to uni, high school is so focused on finishing year 12 that the flexibility of uni fails to get a mention. People drop out, transfer or redo degrees all the time whilst double degrees allow people to keep several doors open. The money and time it costs to do all of these things is worth nothing in comparison to living with no regrets.
- Our society rewards those who work hard, not those who know exactly what they want.
I can spend my whole life wanting to be the chief-financial-officer of an Italian leather jacket maker because this may be perceived as ‘successful’. However, the world doesn’t care one bit if I didn’t work towards it. Hard work and perseverance will always be rewarded in comparison to fantasy dreams and unrealistic goals regardless of direction. Redefine your definition of success and everything else will follow (check out Nina’s awesome article on this topic right here: Whose Definition of Success are we Living By).
- The more experience you gain, the closer you become to knowing what you want to do.
There will always be a time when you don’t know and a split second after when you do. The annoying fact is that those moments exist but don’t always come when we need them to! By pursuing any activity, whichever direction (whether that be going to uni, taking a gap year or even taking up a new hobby) you’re more than likely to get closer to that split second difference between knowing and not knowing. As other wise ENIDS have said before, there is no rush (here’s another ENID who thinks the same: Taking your Time in University; how and why?) .
- Don’t underestimate the power of no direction.
In the end, having a direction makes things quicker, easier and a little safer. Not having a direction isn’t any less valuable. Far from it, I think you lose a little bit of adventurous freedom by knowing what you want to do. Especially because when you have no direction, you can look at everything, try everything and take every chance to be anything.
Direction was always a tad overrated anyway.