Zooey Norman
April 30, 2015 2:36 pm

At my high school, you couldn’t graduate without finishing what we called the Planning Program. The P.P. was an online set of questions that you had to complete, and have approved by a teacher, that required you to plan out the next 10 years of your life. Yes, you read that right: 10 years. And the P.P. wasn’t a simple wish list for your future goals. You had to describe yourself, your goals, and every single step that you would need to take to achieve these goals. That’s an intense thing to ask of a full-blown adult, let alone someone just graduating high school.

And it didn’t just stop with an online form that stayed between you and your teachers. At graduation, as you walked across the stage to receive your diploma, the vice principal read out the answers you provided. It was scary having everyone hear your plan because that led to worry that you’d never live up to it. I graduated a couple of years ago and I am no where near where I planned to be by now – and I don’t really want  to be. I’m not even the same person I was a couple years ago. And that’s okay.

Everytime you go on Facebook or turn on the news, it seems like there is a new story about some teen genius that’s changing the world. And then you sit there, reading about this super teen’s accomplishment while wearing no pants and eating Cheetos from the bag, and you feel inferior. But you have to remember that, just because someone else accomplished a lot at a young age, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that you won’t accomplish all of your dreams in your life time. The pressure to succeed RIGHT NOW, paired with the skewed look at life via Facebook can leave you feeling like a completely loser, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone is different. Some people have everything figured out when they’re teens, but most people don’t. And you know what? Neither is wrong. 

My best friend is a super model that travels the world. She’s the epitome of having it all figured out from the get-go. We’ve known each other since we were 11, and she always had this star power quality about her. I would just listen to her talk sometimes and I knew she was destined for greatness. She started modeling at the age of 15 with the help of her momager, who also modeled in the 80s. Now, she has designers at Vancouver Fashion Week fighting over who gets to have her in their show. Modeling was always her trajectory. Sometimes, seeing her impressive resume makes me feel left behind, but I have many years left to catch up. Everyone says that life is short, but it’s the longest thing any of us will experience and we have the whole time to make our dreams come true.

You’ve already been told by approximately ten thousand people that this is the time of your life when you’re going through changes. But not many people talk about how you’re still going through those changes, maybe even more changes, well into your twenties. Take it from me, the only thing you need to have to have figured out by the time you are 20 is how to take care of yourself. You don’t need to know how many kids you want, how you want to retire, who you want to marry, or what career you want for the rest of your life. Chances are, you’re going to have multiple careers, and lovers, by the time you even reach 40. 

There are thousands of quotes floating around about this time in our lives. They try to motivate and comfort us while we try to figure out who we are and what we want out of life. This was the quote I used as my senior quote, and it’s still one of my favourites:

Don’t beat yourself up for not having everything figured out by the end of your teens. I don’t know what your sign says or if it will say the same thing in 10 or even two years, but that’s the beauty of life. Out of my small circle of friends, only one of us is on the same path we were heading on in high school, the other found her calling in the strangest place, and I’m just down for whatever life throws my way. No one can tell you what you’re supposed to write on your sign and it can be intimidating, seeing all your friends go off and achieve their dreams while you’re still figuring out what to do. But I’ll let you in on a secret, no one else has any idea what they are doing either.

(Images via here and here.)

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