This is a topic that I have wanted to express my feelings for multiple times but never quite found the words. (I still find it difficult now.) It’s something which I have experienced first hand, especially over the last 3 or so years. And that is the pressure that young people face to know exactly what they want to do with their lives.
Probably the most dreaded question to hear for many young people is ‘So what do you want to do?’ We’re fresh out of full time education – where everything is practically spoon fed to us, with no room for independence – yet we’re expected to have a life plan fully mapped out. How can you expect someone to know how they want to live their life when they have no real life experience of their own? It’s ridiculous.
Ever since I can remember I’ve had a passion for performing and I always knew that when I finished A Levels I wanted to go to drama school and then go on to pursue an acting career. I put up with many people telling me that this was an unrealistic goal and that it wasn’t a ‘practical job’ and forever being asked ‘what’s you plan B?’ But it only made me more determined to prove them wrong, because I was so confident that it was the right path for me. I found A levels a really difficult, stressful time and trying to squeeze in drama school auditions in between revision was emotionally draining; but I did because I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Unfortunately, after several auditions and recalls, I was eventually turned down from my top 2 choices. Initially, I found it made me even more determined to try again the following year, because I’d had a taste of what it was like.
It’s only been 10 months since I left Sixth Form and already my vision has become hazy. I started working full time, moved out of my family home, started living with my boyfriend in our own little flat and I have realised that I actually have no idea who I am anymore, or what my purpose is and what my aspirations are. Everything that I thought I knew, has disappeared.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love acting, but trying to pursue an acting career when you have 0 confidence in who you are as a person is impossible. As cliche as it sounds, I need to discover who I am before I can decide the right path for myself.
I forever dread bumping into old family friends and people from my past for the fear of their reaction when I tell them ‘No, I’m not at uni. No, I haven’t applied this year. Yes, I’m still figuring out what I want to do.’ Probably only a handful of people (at a push) reply ‘Oh, you’re still young, don’t worry you’ve got plenty of time.’ The majority just sort of look blankly and move on because they have nothing positive to say. And I sometimes can’t help but think – maybe I am a failure because I don’t have it all planned out.
How many adults are actually doing what they imagined they would at 18 years old? I can’t imagine it to be that many and why is that? because people change; we experience things that change our views, our passions and our aspirations. Our priorities change and reality takes over.
This ‘year out’ has only made me realise that I still have so much to learn about myself and about the World and I don’t see how I can do that by jumping into something that I don’t feel I’m ready for. There’s so much out there that I’ve yet to experience and that is my priority right now.
So to anyone who thinks I’m giving up or not following my dreams or just being idle, I’m just taking some time to figure it out. And I’m enjoying it!
For those of you who do have a plan or a goal, follow it! Don’t let people tell you it’s not achievable. But also, don’t be disheartened if you change your mind, don’t feel like a failure because it’s not your priority anymore. And if you don’t have any idea what you want to do with your life… who cares? Do what you enjoy, work hard, be inspired and everything will fall into place.