I’m 16 and just starting A-levels in English language, English literature and history. My GCSE results were OK and I enjoy the subjects I am taking forward now. But whenever someone asks me what I want to be when I’m older I have no idea.
I’ve flipped around different ideas, from being a lawyer, to owning a business, to being an actor, to several others. But I still have no idea, and need to decide soon before I start looking at university. What’s your advice?
There is a turning point in everyone’s life when people stop asking “What do you want to do?” and replace the question with “What do you do?” I guarantee you that nine times out of 10, the two answers are very different. What happens between saying “photographer” and “account manager” is life, and lots of it.
Ultimately you can have your “passion” or your “dream” but the dull reality of things like rent and electricity bills will assume an importance in your life that you never imagined. In a way I think you are lucky that you don’t know what you want to do. Nowadays everyone is supposed to have a vocation, but there is nothing wrong with doing a job that simply funds the things that bring you joy, such as socialising with friends or travelling.
The important thing right now is to keep your options open. Ask yourself questions. How important is money to you? Do you like routine? How long do you want to stay in academia? Having a degree is often useful – but make sure it is in something you enjoy, and which doesn’t limit your choices in a postgrad world. Some people know what they want and go looking for it, while others stumble into jobs and career paths. There is no right or wrong way to proceed. You are 16 years old. I have been doing my job for longer than you have been alive and I didn’t start until I was 33. You may not have a vocation, but you have the greatest gift of all: time. Enjoy every moment.
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