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#2: "I Have NO Idea What to Do With My Life!"

Updated: Jul 14, 2019

Shout out to the few people who knew from age 7 that they wanted to become a doctor, performer or lawyer and followed all of the necessary steps to become just that. But if you’re anything like me, a Jack of all trades, Master of some, then that was NOT your life. For some of us, we feel as if there are NO options, and opportunities are really hard to come by. For others of us, we feel like there are just too many possibilities and have no clue what to focus in on. Add on the pressures we’re faced with as young people of color and it can be very overwhelming. We’re expected to go to school for years, select one topic/major of study, which should secure us a decently paying job, and be happy with our decision until we’re 62 years old. Umm... No. I’m way too indecisive and uncertain for that. (Plus, I do not want to be doing the same thing for 40 more years) So, what is a girl to do when she has no idea what she could do or should do?

I changed my career aspirations so many times, to the point that I’ve lost count! In kindergarten, I was dead set on being a teacher. In middle school, I was adamant about being a fashion designer (and my mom has my first “designs” to prove it). Then in H.S, I was ready to start my career as a criminal lawyer. Going into college I decided, that I was actually UNdecided about what I wanted to do. I wanted to be everything and there was no such major available. So, like many others, I declared psychology. I figured as a psych major I could dibble and dabble in whatever field I wanted to. I could work with kids, I could work with the justice system, or I could counsel people in some capacity. In the midst of all of this indecisiveness it took me so long to come to a very important realization.

I realized that society had this ALL wrong. We shouldn’t be forcing young people to chose a field or occupation for the rest of their lives especially if they have no exposure or experience in it. Instead we should be encouraged to explore our interests and develop new skills and experiences freely. I always thought that I didn’t have the time or the money to “try new things”. I thought it would be a distraction from grinding to become what I actually “wanted” to be.

Believe it or not, I was wrong. It wasn’t up until very recently that I understood that these interests and experiences would ultimately prepare to me to become who I needed to be. Wait, how is that possible? How was it that devoting more time in extracurricular activities, planning and facilitating events instead of studying for abnormal psych exams supposed to get me where I’m supposed to be? Well, as it turns out, I was never meant to be nobody’s psychotherapist.

I fell in love with the ‘idea’ of becoming a therapist because I pictured people coming into my office, sitting on my couch and telling me their problems. And because I would be a Doctor, I could fix them. All it took was one class on psychotherapy in my last year of college for me to see that I was not actually built for this. As I studied the details of Bipolar disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, I realized that this is not what I wanted to do. So here I was, confused all over again about what to do with my life.

Being a very structured person, I could not stand all of the uncertainty around my future. I had to take action because the fear of the unknown was haunting me. So, here is what I did:

The first thing that I focused on when being UNdecided was figuring what my likes and dislikes are. I did this in a couple of ways.

  1. Research - is amazing. It’s a great way to get general information about anything. And the way the internet is set up in 2017…Girl! Never be afraid to dig a little deeper than just googling something. My ability to look things (& people) up has become unmatched. When I first researched my field I initially looked at the Occupational Outlook Handbook by the bureau of labor statics because it’s a pretty official source that not only tells you about the job but also projects how much the job will grow in the years to come. Also O*Net was a great source for just explaining what the job title entails. These resources allowed me to gain some very basic and general knowledge about a couple different roles I was interested in. But I didn’t stop there. After getting the basics, I went on to research people  who did these same jobs and reached out to them. I would talk to people I know and ask them about their experience. And when I didn’t know anyone personally, I would find them on LinkedIn and ask them about their background and experience. It was so uncomfortable, and my friends made fun of me for being such an expert stalker, but all the information and free advice I received was so helpful to me in making my decision.

  2. Practice - is amazingER. All that research can be cool for the early bit. But it doesn’t fully provide you with the nitty gritty of what this job would be like on a day-to-day. Getting the opportunity to practice can be quite a challenge though. You’d most likely have to volunteer your time through an internship of some sort to get that practice. But once you get that practice, or something close to it, you can identify whether or not you can see yourself doing this for awhile and if you’d enjoy it.

  3. Research & Practice - is amazingEST! This is when you can make a more informed decision about something! As a scientist-practitioner by trade, it's only natural that I take a theory AND practice approach to this. Like I’d say to myself in theory... I could really be a nurse and make a decent living helping other people. However, in practice, I actually despise hospitals and am terrified of needles. It becomes something to think about further before just pursuing it.

Beyond these practical steps , there was one more thing I needed to do. I struggled so much with this and it’s called PATIENCE. I just couldn’t stand the idea of trying something new and not seeing results from it immediately. That’s usually when I would feel like a failure. I’d think to myself “Well, dang, I just went out of my way to try this thing and it did not even work out”. and retort back to pursuing something safe or was never meant to do.

Sometimes we’ll try something and it’s like planting a seed. Some seeds take forever to sprout and it can get discouraging while waiting, especially if you have no idea what that seed will blossom into. But when we see the fruit that the seed produces, we can either be in awe or not impressed. So we try again, and again. There’s no rush besides the rush we put on ourselves.  

If I think of where I am today, the skills I’ve developed, the knowledge I’ve acquired.. It’s not a result of something I just up and did yesterday or last week. It’s been years of learning and practicing and trying those things that have finally come to fruition today. And as I care for  those seeds and plant new ones today, I’m confident that they will develop and become gardens in my future. No matter how long or how many trials it takes, I’ll eventually bloom.

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