In going out and giving talks, one of the more common questions I get is how do I figure everything out? How do I figure out what kind of job I want, if this is the right person, if I’m on the right path?
I want to start this blog with DO NOT FEAR! If you’re encountering this question a lot and it gives you all kinds of stress and anxiety, I would invite you to take a step back. Breath, have a cup of tea or cocoa, and relax.
The truth is: You’ll never have everything figured out. No matter how hard you can try, you’ll never be able to deduce or plan everything that’s going to happen and how it will occur. There will be surprises along the way. The Lord knows the last thing we would ever think of and will always take us by surprise. This can be very unnatural for us, because the longing in all of us is to know what our story will be, what the pages will say about us and what we did. The human inclination is control, to be able to be on top of things, ahead of the curve, and prepared for the worst.
This fights God’s call to us, that he desires for us to surrender and let him write the story. At the end of the day, he made us, he made earth, he made the universe. He is the one in control. It is only when we are able to let go, let our heavenly father do his work, we can have the peace of a small child and trust in the father. Know that giving God this piece of our lives will never make things boring. God is the author of every story, and can make our story more wild, adventurous, and wonderful then we ever could.
The world and the culture tends to put this expectation on our shoulders that we need to be on this timeline for our career or we have to reach certain goals in a relationship by a certain point. Ultimately, it’s so unrealistic and unhelpful to think that we have to know all we need to know by the time we’re 20.
One small tangent in this article is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to be in a romantic relationship in middle school or high school. You don’t need one to be happy or popular, and you’re changing, growing, and going places. Who knows who you’ll meet and what you’ll be doing when you’re ready to settle down. You still have the freedom to date if you desire to, but keep in mind change is just around the corner.
Don’t take what I’m saying as, “Don’t make any decisions at all.” That is also not a realistic or prudent way to live. While we can’t know what’s coming down the road in 5 or 10 years, we can seek to know and understand what’s before us right now. Whether that be you’re in high school, a freshman just starting out, or a senior picking between colleges, or even a college student that’s choosing a major. The Lord is a good guide and desires the best for you. Whether that be to experience something hard to form you in virtue or gift you with an experience you couldn’t imagine.
Whether or not you’re at a decision point for , here are some pointers that will help you see more clearly:
- Learn about yourself – I think one thing that has been brushed under the rug is just simply learning who we are. It’s so important to stand on the foundation that we are beloved children of God, because then we can live in the freedom of his unending love. From this foundation, we won’t be constrained by an identity that’s built on something fragile, like success, popularity, wealth, things that will change or break with time. Another part of this is that we are a mystery unto ourselves. We will always be learning the movements of our hearts, why I thought that, why I feel this way, why this hurt so much. What has helped me in this area is taking personality tests. Seeing what other people like me do for a living, how they process information, how they build relationships. Oftentimes, there will always be a line or a statement that strikes me, “Yes, that’s me!” There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from seeing the different parts of ourselves and how different we are from one another. Granted, personality tests will never be an exact match or answer to our woes. In the words of a pirate “We figured they were more like guidelines.”
- Our Open Doors – I invite you to stop and think. What are all the opportunities that stand before you right now? Is there a job, a major, or a project that has been offered or presented to you? I invite you that maybe you just need to give it a shot and see how it goes. I know that there can be a lot of fear if we take these chances, because we don’t want to make the wrong ones. I would advise that whatever you learn, for better or for worse, will still help you in the long run. Knowing what you don’t want to do is still as fruitful as knowing what you like. It helps inform your future decisions and figure out what to steer clear of. Maybe you’ll go in and discover something new about yourself or see that you enjoy it more than you thought you would. The Lord wants you to find the best thing for you as much as you do, so don’t think that the Lord is going to intentionally lead you to a job to be miserable or without purpose. For some, the beauty of their career is not that it’s super awesome, all day every day. The beauty comes that the job allows them to provide for their families, or gives opportunity to build valuable relationships. So never completely count something as a no if you haven’t given it a fair chance.
- People Around You – Again, we are often a mystery to ourselves. Something we sometimes fail to consider is what the people we love see in us, because sometimes they see something or provide a new perspective that we never considered fully before. The Lord loves and speaks to us in unique ways, and sometimes this is through our loved ones, who know us better than anyone else on earth (emphasis on “on earth”). Our loved ones see us when we react, when we rejoice, when we suffer, and can give us that insight that we need. Our parents and elders also have so much wisdom and knowledge from their youth and mistakes, and we’d be fools not to learn from them. This can be our parents, relatives, or teachers, people who have walked the walk before we took our first steps. They will be able to provide us with deeper insights on opportunities and give us a fuller picture of what we would experience.
So, I hope this has provided you with some reassuring information and some good ways to move forward. I want to reiterate that you shouldn’t feel pressured to know or figure things out long before you need to take steps forward. If you’re in middle school or early high school, you have a lot of time before you need to narrow down your focus, so try things out and see what sticks. If you’re farther along, in late high school or early college, take some steps to discern and commit to a decision. If you discover what you chose isn’t what you want to do 10 years down the road, then keep taking steps forward to discover what’s out there and what’s for you.