If you’re like me, you’ve probably based a lot of your decisions for where you want to put yourself in the future. Being a writer that doesn’t write obviously doesn’t work, so I fixed that. But I think we put this stigma on taking one’s time (especially in America) that it’s really added onto the stress in our lives.
It’s a common statistic that people generally experience the largest amounts of stress during high school. I think a lot of that ties back to the fact that we’re told that we need to know who we want to be as soon as possible because if you are late to the party you won’t be let in. But that’s simply not true.
There is virtually no mistake that you can do early on in your life that closes the door of opportunity on you. If I wanted it badly enough, I could still probably be a translator for a dozen languages I’ve never heard of. I could become a big politician. I could become an astronaut. It isn’t until you start getting into your thirties that some of those doors start closing, and even then its only a few. For example learning a language gets harder as you’re older, but that’s not to say its impossible.
My point is that I could still have never discovered creative writing and have my life end exactly the same way (well, not exactly…) One day I may shatter both of my hands in a freak avalanche and discover I really enjoy surfing (or something that doesn’t require hands). Or maybe I make some poor decisions and fall off the path of the straight and narrow for a decade. Well, thirty years old is still young enough to start a new career.
So, don’t be afraid of failing to become the person you’re meant to be. The way I see it, you’re guaranteed to become that person, and it takes some people longer than others to find themselves. There is such a small spectrum of choices you can make that will prevent you from being a certain person ten years down the line that it basically doesn’t even matter what you do right now.
All that being said, don’t let this be an excuse to procrastinate or spend your life goofing off. I’d say your path will be easier the sooner you start, and that should be motivation enough, but don’t ever let what you think your future should be take away from the person you want to be now. Don’t give Future You a reason to look back and roll their eyes at all the dumb choices you made. You want to look back and see one of two things: Either seeing how hard you tried to get to where you are now, or how far you’ve come from who you were before. They could even mean the same thing to Future You. It’s hard to say. In any case, don’t worry about aiming for your future. You can’t really miss.