Why It's OK Not to Have Your Life Planned Out

What do you want to be when you grow up? We’re bombarded with this question even before learning how to read. Our society places a strong importance on planning out our lives. Although it can be beneficial to have goals, it can also cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you find yourself among the demographic of young people without a clear path, know you are not alone.

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It is important to recognize that humans are ever-evolving. When I was a little kid, all I wanted was to be an astronaut. I would make powerpoints about astronomers for fun and dream about being the first woman on Mars. However, last fall I took an Intro to Astronomy course and wanted to throw my textbook out the window every time I tried reading it. Interests change, and it’s OK to fall out of love with our dreams. As long as you hold onto passion and drive, you will get where you are meant to be.

Having a plan sets you on a certain path, but what happens when you start to lose passion for your plan? In high school I set myself up on the pre-med track. My parents, who both work in the medical field, pushed me toward science. Since I’d loved the subject my whole life, it seemed like a good fit. I took extra science classes, applied to nursing schools, and even did a hospital internship. I was never extremely passionate about medicine, but I was scared of facing uncertainty, disappointing my parents, and deviating from my plan.

Sometimes having a plan keeps us from trying new things, things we might dismiss as a waste of time or a hindrance to our “goal.” In reality, trying new things might help us discover our passions instead. Don’t let the fear of wasting time or effort prevent you from exploring different interests. We should be following what makes us happy in the present, and allowing those actions to shape our future. Don’t let a plan keep you from missing out on opportunities. Know that no matter what path you end up taking, it is never too late to start over.