show ’em all
I spent a good amount of my high school years hooked up to IVs, being told that not eating 'wasn't going to make me pretty'. (That was my mother.) I had extra time on assignments, was allowed to drop classes I couldn't be present for, and deflected pitiful glances from classmates. Seventeen, for me, tastes like laxatives and mouth wash.
It's funny how when you weigh ninety pounds, you still steal all the air out of the room.
I didn't know who I wanted to be. This is more important than 'what' you want to be. I knew I didn't want to be sick. But I also didn't know who I was. They tell you, 'seventeen is so young.' But these were the same people who didn't know how many calories are in a fig, or how many reps on a elliptical is takes to burn off the creamer in my coffee.
That was the voice in my head. I went to college, dropped out, and ended up in a mental hospital. You know what hurts more than your mother refusing to visit you? Staring recovery in its face and realizing it's who you have been all along. That you'll never escape who you are at your core.
I don't believe in fate. But God makes plans, and we laugh.
Currently, I don't like what I do for a living. I wish I had more initiative. Where's the girl who could run on the treadmill for two hours straight? She's now thirty and streaming Hulu.
Have dreams. When I was in rehab for the sixth time, I was forced to eat a potato chip and cried. When those tears fell, I didn't want to be who I had become. It took years to change. I dreamed of a day when I could eat with abandon. It came.
Eating potato chips isn't an accomplishment. But it's my story. I think you need to look at your story, and with your dreams, knowing who you are, go from there.
It's not easy. But that day I was forced to eat a potato chip? Other girls were forced to, too. And they said: Alison, I saw you eat one, and I had the courage to do it, too.
Be that girl. Show them all who you really are.
How I Chose
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a writer, but when it came time to choose a career path, I decided that it wasn't very smart to major in writing. If I didn't get published right away, how would I make an income? I had always been told that I would make a good teacher, so I decided to combine that with my love of the English language and majored in English Literature and Education, while taking the occasional writing class when I could.
I ended up working part-time in a daycare while I was in college, and, when I didn't get hired as a middle/high school teacher, I ended up as a full-time staff member at the daycare when I graduated. Since I had a degree, they offered me a teaching position, and I taught there for ten years. It was a stressful job and it didn't pay very much, but, for the most part, I enjoyed it. It was never boring!
Just recently (in June), I left that job to pursue writing. Right now, I'm working as a freelance editor and writer while writing on my own and exploring ways to get my writing "out there." It's been kind of a roundabout way of getting here, and I definitely wouldn't say that I've "made it" yet, but I don't regret my choices.
I think that there are a lot of people who don't know what they want to do when they're in high school, and I think that's okay. If you want my advice, here it is:
First, look at your reality. Are you able to take a year or two before you make a decision? If so, there are lots of great opportunities. Get some work experience. Do an internship in a field that interests you. Do volunteer work. Meet people. You might discover more about yourself that will inform your decision.
If you aren't able to take time off, then I would suggest looking at your future in a broader sense. You don't have to know specifics right now. Do you want to go to college? If so, you can go without declaring a major and take some gen-ed courses and see what you like. If you still struggle to find a degree you like, I would recommend going for something more general. A degree in something like Business or Communications can get you in the door almost anywhere.
If you're thinking in terms of school subjects, you might think that there isn't and area that you excel in. Try thinking of it in a broader sense. Are you a highly-organized person? There are lots of administrative jobs out there. Are you a people person? Lots of companies need charming, positive people to be out in front. There's also positions like recruiters (head hunters). If you're on here, you're probably a decent writer. There are all kinds of jobs that involve writing (and not just novels). Think about how you go about doing things and what that says about your skills. You could even ask your family, friends, and teachers how they would describe you to get a better sense of your skills.
There's a lot of pressure on people your age to choose now what you will do for the rest of your life, and once upon a time, that's the way it was done. But these days, it's just not that way anymore. Now, a lot of people switch companies and even entire career paths two or three times before they find the one they want to settle down in. My recommendation is, don't rush it if you don't have to. Give yourself time to get to know yourself outside of high school (because, believe me, you will not be the same person a few years from now!). And don't worry so much about finding the "right" career. Unless you want to go into a career that will take years of schooling before you can even start (like medicine or law), there's nothing that says you can't change your mind in a couple of years. Spend time thinking about it, but try not to stress over it.
Don’t be Afraid to Get Lost
The truthful answer is, I didn't figure out what I wanted to do. Some people are lucky, they have a direction and they follow it diligently, loving every step of the process. I never felt particularly drawn to any one thing. I liked to write, I enjoyed film making and music, but I was too practical to think any of those things could be a career. So what did I do? I forced myself into a nursing program that I didn't enjoy. Not what I wanted to do, but practical. It made sense on paper. The result? Failure. To the third degree. Why? Because jumping headfirst into college isn't the answer for everybody. This grand myth that you need to go to college and graduate to get a good career is just that. More and more kids are falling into deep debt and coming out of college with no practical skills to do anything. It's worse for those of us who started out questioning, unsure. My advice to you would be to allow yourself the space and time to make mistakes, make choices and learn more about yourself in the process. There are so many wonderful exciting things that can be done. Take a gap year. See the world. Try out different things to see what you have a taste for. If college is what you want to do, sample classes until you find one or two you enjoy, usually this will lead you in a direction. Reject the idea that you have to be talented to be fulfilled. It's not about what you're good at. It's about what you enjoy doing. Life is short, and you have so much of it in front of you. Learn how fill every one of those moments with glorious mistakes, experiences and joy. That's the best advice I can give.
It doesn’t matter
It doesn't matter and it does. In highschool we think that this decision will determine the rest of our lives. We think that once we start in this direction, there is no going back. That is not true on multiple levels. You can start college with a degree and then change it. You can get multiple degrees. You can study one thing for a bachelors and something completely different for a masters. You can study one thing and end up with a job that is completely different. It doesn't matter that much.
That being said, pick something that interests you enough to finish. Pick your passion and work hard to make it work. Or pick something that is only slightly interesting and do it to support your passions.
I picked Web Development by going through all my interests and comparing their work environment and pay. I could have been an English major. I could have played the French Horn. I could have done graphic development. But I liked the environment and pay of Web Development. Now I work at home and write in the evenings. Sometimes I do graphic development on my own time.
Good luck and have fun. No matter what you choose, enjoy yourself.
Choosing life after High School
One piece of advice I always give is find something you are interested in and work with that. For example, if you are interested in stars, study astrology, interested in mental health, study that. This will help a lot because if you are interested in it you will be more interested in studying it, then because of this you will remember it and become really good at it. Another thing is to take a few tests finding what you are good at or ask others what they think you would be good at so you can choose your options there.