I'm Allowed to Be Confused About the Future -- And You Are, Too

My name is Taylor. I'm 17 years old, and I just recently finished my junior year of high school. I guess that means I'm a senior, but I'm a little afraid for fall to roll around because that means I will finally have to come face-to-face with my biggest fear: college admissions.

I often feel as though I should already have my life figured out. A lot of my peers already have plans for their post-high school careers, but I find myself shrugging my shoulders every time somebody asks me, "What are you doing after high school?" Not to mention the fact that I'm constantly bombarded with reminders from the adults in my life to choose a career path now, right now, specifically one that will make me lots of money and set me on a comfortable path for the rest of my life. Sadly, I know I'm not alone in my distress.

In a world filled with Taylor Swifts, Justin Biebers and Beyoncés, high schoolers assume that we must know what we're good at and perfect that while we're young. We should be winning awards and going to good schools and starting life-long careers before we can legally drink. We are pressured to take the hardest classes, to get the highest grades, to get into the best colleges, etc. We do this because we are told by society that if we fail while we are young we won't be able to succeed in the future. The fact of the matter is that this pressure will never end. We will one day feel pressured to get the best jobs, to get promotions and raises and in turn, we forget to be happy. We forget to do what we actually like because we are too much focused on "succeeding."

Here's the thing:

This is not true. We are young, and we are allowed to be indecisive. We are allowed to change our minds. We are allowed to try something out, realize we don't like it, and switch paths towards things that make us happier. Sure, Taylor Swift was winning Grammys at 18, but Van Gogh didn't start painting until his twenties. J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter book in her thirties, and Walt Disney was fired from his job as a newspaper editor because he wasn't creative enough. Despite the pressure we often feel to succeed as soon as possible, these people prove to us that it is possible, and maybe even necessary to try and fail before we truly succeed.

I encourage everyone reading this to choose to do what makes you happy -- what fulfills you. It is never ever too late to do anything. So if you know what you want to do now, do it. If you decide you want to do something else when you're 50, do it. And if you don't know what you want to do, take solace in the fact that one day you will find your place in the world. For now, all we can do is be confident in ourselves. We are all talented in different ways. We are all beautiful and complex creatures who are capable of amazing things, so it's OK if it takes a few of us a while to figure out what we're going to major in. After all, the most amazing things always take extra time.

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