There are other certainties in life besides death and taxes. Chief among them is emotional pain. No matter how charmed a life anyone leads, suffering is inevitable from time to time. We should expect it and develop the tools to endure it. It also helps to have a supportive group of people in your life who can serve as a buffer for the more difficult times.
The teenage years are especially difficult. You’re experiencing that now. Ask virtually anyone about their teenage years and invariably, unless their memory is faulty, they’ll be able to relate to what you’re going through. There were many ups and downs in life.
You mentioned feeling bad about yourself because you don’t know what you want to do with your life. It’s impossible to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at such a young age. It takes a great deal of time, exploration and effort to know what you want to do. At your age, it’s unrealistic to think that you should know how you want to occupationally spend the next half-century or longer. You’re too young to make such a major decision. Take the pressure off.
You should try many things. You should read up on many things. You should explore many ideas. Job shadow people who are working in careers that you think would be interesting. Be open-minded and never think that you’re supposed to know things before you’re ready.
You should consider discussing these matters with the school guidance counselor. Vocational tests can help to narrow down your interests.
You may not know what you want to do with the rest of your life for a while and that’s okay. It’s perfectly acceptable and normal. Take your time, do your research and don’t make a decision prematurely. Most college students change their majors, often dramatically so.
I have worked with people who didn’t think too much about what they wanted to do for their careers and simply chose based on what their parents wanted or what they thought they should do. These individuals were often miserable in life because of this.
I see a similar thing occurring among students. They chose a major prematurely because they felt pressured to choose because our culture suggests you “should” know. Sometimes, even when they realize they’ve chosen the wrong major, they stick with it because in their minds, it’s too late to start over. Then they graduate with a degree in a field that they have no interest in and now they’re stuck. It would have been far better for them to have taken their time and explored all areas and only had made a choice when they were ready. Few things are more important than choosing your career. Take your time and don’t feel pressure to decide prematurely.
You mentioned anxiety. Anxiety is a highly treatable condition. I would strongly urge you to contact an in-person therapist. All of the issues that you have described in your letter are amenable to counseling. It could make all the difference. Give it a try. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle