As a fresh-out-of-high school 18-year-old, I viewed the world through rose coloured glasses. I had my heart set on a university program at a top school far away from home and thought I had my life figured out. September came, I packed up and moved away from home for the first time without looking back.
Flash forward three months (yes, a mere 12 weeks) and I’m back at home after dropping out.
- What went wrong?
- Why was I, someone who had always found success in academia, failing?
- Why was this happening to me?
For months these questions plagued me and eventually, my mental health began to suffer. With some pretty deep self-reflecting, I finally realized that it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart or not capable, it was because I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. This sparked my five-year journey to finding my passion in a vast sea of options.
I share my story with quite a few young adults who are close to graduating high school, have graduated high school or are already in college/university and have no idea what they’re doing. I always start by telling them the same thing, it’s okay. This isn’t something I say to calm them down (okay, maybe a little bit), but rather, it’s something I really do mean. Knowing 100 percent what you plan to do for the rest of your life by the time you turn 18 is hard and it seems as if this has become the norm for most students finishing high school.
This goes hand in hand with perhaps one of my most practical tidbits of advice for those who are unsure of what they want to pursue in post-secondary education: take a gap year and explore your interests. Spend this time really finding things that interest you. Explore career options through volunteer opportunities or study abroad (to name a few). These were all things that I had wished I had done prior to putting all my ‘eggs in one basket’ for a post-secondary education that seemed like it was for me.
Moreover, I think it’s important to stress that it’s okay if you don’t get it right on the first try, even if it feels like it’s the end of the world. Not only did I drop out of my first ever university program, I also switched majors during my second and my third degree. It wasn’t until my fourth-degree program that I finally found my calling. I saw my grades improve, I became interested in what I was learning, I actively sought out more articles related to subjects I had learned about in class – I had found what I was passionate about.
Finally, as hard as it may be, avoid comparing yourself to others. I’m most certainly guilty of doing this. I’ve had many friends who have succeeded on their first try. Many have gone on to graduate and find awesome jobs in some great fields. Some of us have had a much curvier path to our final destination, and that’s okay! Sometimes I find myself needing to take a step back and check in, noting that everyone takes a different route on the way to their final stop. I found that once I did this, I became much happier and felt better about doing things at my own pace.
When I really need some time to myself to step back and check-in, I often turn to technology. Specifically, the Flipd app! This app helps you completely block out all outside distractions, letting you spend time off of your phone and be fully present — perfect for getting into the best frame of mind. I find this incredibly helpful for those overwhelming moments during the day.
In a world where we are constantly barraged with options, finding your passion should not be something that hangs over your head or weighs you down. Remembering that this is your own unique journey is of the utmost importance. This mindset doesn’t have to be difficult to attain and with a little self reflection, you can work through the vast options and find what you love to do.