The Weight of Being 18

Sunday, March 13

By Francesca Peri Brusa

There's a question I'm sure every senior student hates being asked: What are you going to do after high school? This single question is the core of many existencial crisis for students because the stakes are unbearable. Between our parents' expectations and worrying about making the wrong choice, this decision, which should be exhilarating and electrifying, turns into a never-ending nightmare. 

Firstly, they made us believe that the decision that we make now will affect the course of our lives forever, and if we make the wrong choice, then there's no turning back. That's too much pressure to put on a young 18-year-old. There's no way that a teenager can decide what the rest of our lives will look like because, most of the time, we don't even know who we are yet. We are still figuring out who we want to be, what we like, what we want and what we don't. This takes time that we aren't allowed to have at 18 because you need to choose and you need to choose now. You shouldn't waste your time. You'll fall behind. Yet, we still have our whole lives ahead of us to choose what we want to do. You shouldn't make a choice just for the sake of choosing, you should truly be thrilled about the new chapter in your life. Until then, don't rush. There's plenty of time and you won't be wasting it if you're searching for your calling. 

On top of that, there's everyone else's expectations. Your family, friends and teachers are all watching and giving their unsolicited opinions on your decision. And, though sometimes other people's point of view is very enriching, usually it is accompanied by so much prejudice. Do you think that's the best option? You will starve to death with that major. I just want you to be happy. It is for your own good. I know many friends who want to study art or film or music, but don't because their parents don't think that's a good idea. Of course, these people who love you want you to have the happiest life, but sometimes their idea of a happy life differs from yours. Choosing a career path is deeply personal and it is crucial that you don't let what other people think affect your choice. Don't study law because your parents studied that, do it because you are truly passionate about it. At the end of the day, you are the one who is going to be dedicating long hours to your career, so you should be the one who should enjoy it, not everyone else. 

Last week, college finally started. I spoke with one of my proffessor about the possible jobs that my major could allow me to have. He gave an extense list of hundreds of jobs that I could carry out in the near future. But, what struck me the most was the lesson that many people forget to mention: it doesn't really matter what major you choose. It doesn't matter what college you go to. It doesn't even matter if you go to college or not. Of course, education is important, but a person is so much more than a degree. There's this notion that the major or the college you pick will trap you in a little box which you can't escape. If you study law, you'll be a lawyer for the rest of your life and if you study engineering, you'll be an engineer for the rest of your life. In reality, life has so many unexpected turns waiting to happen. A decision you make when you are 18 years old won't determine what your life will be like for eternity. Each of one of us is able to write our own story and rewrite it if we don't like the path it is going. So, for all high school students, relax. Choosing what to do for the rest of your life at the early age of 18 is impossible. You still have time to make mistakes and change your mind as many times as you want throughout life. 

What are you going to do after high school?" just tell them "I'll be myself." That is the only thing that will get you where you wanna go. If you're not doing what you love, you'll never get anywhere. The only way to have a succesful, happy life is to be your most authentic self. And, if you don't know who that is yet, don't push it. You will figure it out sooner or later; we all do. 

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