As you prepare for your college admissions test, there are likely to be moments when you imagine what your future might look like. Where do you want to go to college? What do you want to study there? What do you want to do for a living after you graduate? These questions might feel exciting, but they can also feel overwhelming—especially if you don't know the answers. If you don't know where you are going, how are you supposed to know how to get there?
When I was in high school, I know I was considering questions such as these, and I hadn't the faintest idea how to answer them.
I would watch a television show about lawyers and think a legal career would be interesting. I would watch a television show about an ad firm, and think a career in advertising would be fun. I would read a magazine and consider writing as a profession. I would go shopping or drink a cup of tea and imagine owning a boutique/coffee house combo. Heck, I would watch America's Next Top Model and wonder if I could walk the runways even though I was 5'6" and probably done growing.
Meanwhile, I loved acting, enjoyed singing, liked helping people... I vacillated between wanting to earn a BFA in theater and a liberal arts BA. It wasn't until a month or so before I received my acceptance letters that I decided to pursue a BA, and I made that decision so I could keep my options open.
What's a well-intentioned and multi-passionate high school student to do?
The idea that you should know what you want to do with your life when you are in college, let alone high school, is kind of ludicrous. Sure, there are people ahead of the game (my brother has wanted to go to med school for as long as I can remember), but a five year plan is by no means a prerequisite to a happy life, let alone a life doing what you love. Among my actor friends, some attended BFA programs, some earned an MFA, some a BA, some acted as a child, and some have completed post-graduate independent training programs. Some are classically trained, some started with improv. There are many roads that can take you to Rome, not just one. Furthermore, it isn't necessary that you decide your going to Rome tomorrow. You can still buy a ticket next Tuesday.
If you don't know exactly where you want to go to college or exactly what you want to study or exactly what you want to do with your degree, that's okay. Figuring out what makes you happy and fulfilled is part of the journey.
Set intentions for how you want to feel in college. Let those feelings be your motivators throughout this process. Knowing that you want to feel intellectually challenged, a sense of community, culturally engaged, and self-empowered might be enough to help you feel clarity and purpose right now. Then, focus on the things you enjoy about right now. Not only will it help you to appreciate the present moment, but it may give you clues to what your "Rome" looks like down the road.
Lastly, keep doing and being your best. Keep putting forth effort and moving toward the pursuits that help you to feel in your element. That's the surest way to reach Rome.
Receive notifications of new blog posts and get a free chapter of "Acing It!"