“One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – One Tree Hill
Seventeen is the in-between age, you lack the naivety of a sixteen year old and you haven’t quite got the maturity of an eighteen year old. Despite this, seventeen year old’s in Britain are still put under enormous pressure to make decisions that will supposedly determine their future. As the end of the school year is looming, we are frequently forced upon with questions of whether we will go to university, what we will study, and what direction we want our lives to go in. Whilst the excitement of change and new beginnings is upon us, the daunting pressure of the future lies in our hands and we are merely given months to make up our minds.
Parents, schools and colleges are adamant about the fact that whatever we decide to do with our lives when we leave college will be what we do with the rest of our lives. However in reality it is solely just an influence. We are still young. We still have to ask permission to go to the toilet and we still get our phones confiscated from us in class yet we are asked to make such huge decisions. One minute we are still children and the next we have the pressure of our future weighing down on our shoulders. It is drilled into us that whatever happens now, at the tender age of seventeen, will affect the rest of our lives.
I am lucky enough to realise that whatever decisions we make now, will not determine our career for our whole life. Whether we stay up all night revising or stay up all night partying, whether we take a few days off school to visit an exotic country or get 100% attendance, these decisions lack significance and won’t improve or impair our future.
I have grown up around many successful adults around me that did not have their lives planned out at seventeen but have still achieved their dreams and continued to live a happy and fulfilling life. An old teacher of mine had no idea what she would do when she left school, she did numerous jobs that she thoroughly enjoyed and she was able to keep changing the direction of her life to keep it fresh and exciting. Her A levels and degree didn’t determine this; she followed her aspirations at the time and lived spontaneously.
Whether you choose to do an English degree, get a job in an insurance company, take a gap year and travel the world or get a job in the local hotel. This will not be the rest of your life. You have the world at your fingertips and you’re life will continue to change.
Don’t get frustrated with yourself if you don’t get the grades you expected or don’t get into the school of your dreams, because it is not the end of the world. If you have a dream and enough passion to achieve it, then somehow you will find a way despite what happens whilst you are young. However most importantly don’t put pressure on yourself that what you spend your time doing as a teenager will make a huge amount of difference on your future.
The only difference it will make is that if when you’re older, you look back on your life and are regretful that you wasted your youth worrying about where you would be in twenty years. Seventeen is a beautiful age and as a teenager you need to make the most out of the freedom you have. At seventeen you are able to make mistakes; you are able to go out partying all night, you are allowed to make a fool out of yourself, you can eat as much as you like until you feel sick, you can sing at the top of your voice loudly in the street with your friends, you’re able to spend the whole day reading a book that is irrelevant to your studies, stay up till 5am and sleep in till noon and wander exciting places with your friends. Do what you desire to do because the only difference it will make on your future is your ability to look back and have wonderful memories.
“Relax. You will become an adult. You will figure out your career. You will find someone who loves you. You have a whole lifetime; time takes time. The only way to fail at life is to abstain.” – Dan Pearce
I can’t stress enough the importance of living life in the present, if you are undecided on what to spend the rest of your life doing then don’t worry about it because that is okay. You can take a gap year and travel the world, give yourself time to think. Or just choose a subject to study at university that you’ll enjoy and that you have passion for, you may not have your career in mind just yet but that is irrelevant. You’re happiness is the most important element of your life and I suggest you spend your time doing something that you love and enjoy. Even if you plan out your whole life, things can change and it is inevitable that your life will not go perfectly to plan. Be spontaneous and see where life takes you, what happens during your teenage years will not determine your destiny.
Don’t let the pressure of your future affect the spontaneity and excitement of your present.