It's Okay to Not Know What You Want to Do After High School

If the thought of graduating from high school—even if it's still a few years away—has you stressing, you aren't alone.

Our society is one of the only ones in the world that places so much pressure on our 17- and 18-year-olds to make such important decisions about their futures at such a young age, and this can lead to a lot of problems that we simply don't talk about enough.

A young girl lays on the floor surrounded by notebooks looking stressed

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If you don't yet know what you want to do after high school, that is okay. We've all been through a lot recently, on top of the already ridiculous amount of expectations that are placed on high schoolers, and frankly, some people just take longer to discover where their passions lie. Sure, some people grew up knowing that they wanted to go to college to study medicine and one day become a doctor, but not everyone's life path looks so clear.

A lot of us need time to figure out what we want to do with our lives, and while going straight to college post-graduation is the right move for some, it may not be right for everyone. Heading straight to college after high school means feeling the pressure to choose a major right off the bat, and the major that you choose can determine what academic or career path you end up in. That's a lot to decide when you're still trying to figure out who you might go to prom with!

Graduates hold their caps and diplomas in the air

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Parents and family members are definitely going to poke and prod about your plans for life after high school, but try not to let this add more stress to your already full plate. If you need a little help, here are a few things to remember:

1. You're Allowed to Take Time Off

Gap years (taking a year off in between graduating high school and attending a university) are very popular in other countries, and taking one might be a good option for you. Most often, people who take a gap year spend that time doing things like traveling or volunteering, which are great to add to college applications and can help you discover a hidden passion you may wish to pursue.


2. Judgment Shouldn't Sway Your Course

Other people's opinions shouldn't have a great effect on your life and how you live it. If someone questions you for not knowing what you want to do yet, brush it off and remind them that you're trying to dedicate your time to your current success before you worry about the future.


3. You Should Do What's Right for You

Just because your family or friends pursue one path doesn't mean you have to do the same. You don't need to attend the same school that your mom did or head straight to a university after graduation like some of your friends plan to, and trying to follow their lead if it doesn't suit you will just be more damaging to you down the line.


Overall, high school is already such a stressful time filled with balancing so many things all at once—you don't need the pressure of having your whole life planned out on top of everything else. Just relax and make the most of this time while you're in it, and know that things will work out no matter what path you follow.

A young girl smiles while holding a map traveling on a gap year

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Interested in taking a gap year after finishing high school? Click HERE to see why it might be a good idea for you.