blog | 3min Read
Published on January 20, 2021
When most people hit 9th Grade, they are told that it’s time to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life. For some reason, it’s always the 9th grade in India. Because until 9th you’re a child who can do whatever, and then suddenly you have the weight of your entire future crashing down on you. Apparently, as soon as you hit your teens, now you must plan every moment of your life.
It starts with selecting an elective when you’re in the 9th. Because that will determine what you do in the 11th and 12th. Then it becomes about what stream you want in college. What are the choices available, which countries have good programs, should you look at the Arts or maybe play it safe with an Engineering degree. Would you need to do more in your 11th and 12th, to help with your SOPs? If you study abroad, what kind of jobs are available after? Should you think about an MBA or a Masters? What kind of job would you need to do to get into a great college? What jobs are available after that degree?
Now how are you supposed to plan all of this when you’re still in your teens. There are people who struggle to do this even when they’re 25. So the reflex is to take a step back and get nudged by others in the ‘right’ direction. Maybe their words seem to have logic and make sense. And then one decision after another, you realise you’re just as lost as when you were 13.
So the question becomes, is it even possible to decide so far in advance? We are always given examples of some relative or some family friend, who knew what he or she was going to do when they were in high school, and look how well they are doing. And that is given as a reason why you should also decide early.
But what is your decision going to be based on?
Experiences. That’s your answer. When we’re in high school, we haven’t experienced much. So we are full of assumptions. We assume that a writer lives a glamorous life. We assume that journalists are risking their lives to enter war zones. We assume that a lawyer is changing the world winning cases. We assume a financial advisor is closing deals worth billions. We assume a lot. And do you know if it’s true? What if you decide your career based on these assumptions, and then find out the future you dreamed about isn’t true?
So burst these assumptions. Find ways to experience things which you haven’t before. If you can’t experience them, find older people who have. You ask them about their life. How they enjoy their work. What are the benefits? What are the pit-falls? You ask them questions which they might never have thought about. You should come hungry to learn. If you have an interest in something, learn about it.
Take up an internship if anybody will let you. Or spend a day shadowing someone at work.
Go through your parents phonebook and find someone who works in the field of your interest.
Try doing the work. Write, if you want to be a journalist. Argue with friends, to re-create a courtroom.
Watch videos and tutorials. There is a treasure trove of information online.
Do workshops in your chosen field. There will be older folks who can give you perspective.
Badger your parents to let you explore. Risky, but it’ll help you overcome your doubt.
Learn about yourself. Not IQ tests, actually explore what your interests are.
Main thing – Don’t worry. Enjoy the uncertainty that comes with this exploration. You should feel happy that you’re exploring at such a young age. You truly can do whatever you want, if you just learn more about it. The trick is not to just make any decision. It is to make an informed decision. And to keep making these decisions every few years throughout your life. You’ll go to college, change as a person, and then again make further decisions. That’s life. Enjoy the process, not the destination.