Virginia Alice, author of "HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within," writes about social media, wellness, and writing.
Inspiring Your Journey as You Find Yourself
When I was young, I used to think I was the only one who didn’t know what to be when they grew up. A sister of mine, six years younger than me, and at the age of two years old, knew she wanted to be a nurse when she grew. I know, how is that even possible? But, in the years after high school, she became an LVN, then an RN, and finally a Combat Medic in the U.S. Army.
As I got older, I pondered how she and others could know what they wanted to be at such a young age – and then do it. And yet, here I was, still not knowing what I wanted to be long into my 20s and 30s.
When I got to high school, and my classmates were selecting colleges and college majors, I blamed it on school counselors focusing on their prized students. Plus, there were also conflicting messages about getting married right after high school, yet I didn't have anyone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with or take a chance on. Not having anyone to mentor me in choosing a future path, I eventually took what I thought was the easy way out and went to trade school.
Recently, a friend who’s known me since grade school observed that I’ve always been good at a lot of things, just never really good at one single thing. It made me think about my life and how I got from Point A to Point B without ever really knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Find yourself and you will find your freedom.
— Gillian Duce
So, what does a young person still in high school do when they don’t know what to be when they grow up? Or how about a person in their 20s, 30s, or older, who still know don't what to do with the rest of their life ?
What Not to Do on Your Search
Let’s start with what not to do:
- Don’t quit. That’s right. Keep working. Keep studying. Keep putting one foot in front of the other until you can figure out a different path.
- Never give up. If you’re not happy with your job or course of study, contemplate what you would be happier doing. Would you rather work in an office or outdoors? Would you prefer to adjust your studies to a different major? Always keep in mind that everything is adjustable, if we just allow ourselves to understand that we have the power to choose, to be flexible, to change our minds, and to be bold and go for what we want.
- Don’t get discouraged. Stay upbeat about your future. Do your best not to let the fear of continuing on your current path keep you from believing you can change it, if and when you want to redirect yourself.
Think about the ways you can learn a job, change jobs, advance in your company, or even move to a different city – from volunteering to gain skills to asking a friend for moral support. Then, decide how you can get there. And write it all down.
With movement comes identity.
— Karl Kristian Flores
If I had known years ago that I could change my future path, even in little ways, I would’ve done so. Instead, I believed I was stuck. I believed I couldn’t change my future or take steps to find out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Instead, I let fear keep me from moving forward. I let the lack of knowledge and self-confidence keep me from investigating how to change my career path. And I let the idea that I couldn’t follow my dreams keep me from choosing a job or new career which I may have been happier at.
Actions You Can Take to Get There
Now, let’s learn some steps to help us decide what or who we want to be:
- Keep doing what you’re doing. For right now, keep at it until you are ready – mentally and strategically – to get closer to your desired dream job.
- Learn about yourself. Take inventory of what you like to do, what you're good at. Can you use these things to make a living – or are they simply fun to do but wouldn’t be something you could do all day every day. And, consider taking a personality assessment, a helpful tool to learn about yourself. These self-assessment tools are offered at college admissions (onsite or online), available in publications at retail and online bookstores, and even part of many human resource offices. Once you learn what your natural inclinations are, you can see more clearly what you may be happy doing with your life.
- Narrow things down. Once you’ve done your research and have all your information available to review, you can start eliminating previous ideas about what you thought you wanted to do and start focusing on things that are more concrete, more you. Once you narrow your options even more, it’s time for the next step.
- Find a mentor. Seek out an individual who is already working in your area(s) of interest. Learn how they are enjoying their job and what it took for them to get there. New insight will help you determine if it’s something you want to be doing for the rest of your life.
- Keep going. In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep going to school or working. Don’t let frustrations cause you to quit or give up. As you study your findings, continue to decide which path is more suited to your heart’s or mind’s calling. As you go along, you’ll have enough information to make a solid decision about your future, even changing your current working situation – if you aren’t happy with it.
- Move forward and commit. Once you feel comfortable with the information you’ve compiled and believe to be your new path, make a plan. Write out your steps and start moving forward. As you do, decide how long you’ll commit to it before trying something else on your list of options.
I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.
— Lewis Carroll
Knowing what a person wants to do for the rest of their lives – and when – is so individual. For my sister, it was at two years old. For me, I’m still figuring things out. But now that I'm retired with over 30 years in clerical administration, I can see where I’ve been and how it’s affected and influenced my whole life.
What I once saw as not knowing what to do when I grew up has turned out to be a unique journey. Due to my clerical background, I’m now well-situated in my current book-writing, self-publishing, and self-marketing career.
So, before you berate yourself too much for not knowing what you want to be when you grow up, be patient as you continue your journey. Perhaps, you are on your path now and just don’t know it yet. But, just in case you need a little help figuring it all out, I hope the above tips help are beneficial to you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Virginia Alice Crawford