As a young woman just having finished CAPE, the first question off the tip of the tongue of every person I encounter is the same; “So, what’s next?” This is a deceptively simple question.
It seems as though, by the age of 18, we are expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives. I think the truest tragedy that we face as young people is ignorance. There is a great pressure for us to know what our next step is without much guidance being given as to the options available. Consequently, I do not believe that many youths reach their fullest potential. The average Guyanese is not aware of many “good” career options. Most push their children to become lawyers, doctors or engineers. While these professions are distinguished in their own right, not everyone who is good at science is suited to be a medical doctor, or not everyone who enjoys Mathematics is fit to become an engineer. The problem is, however, that we simply do not know what else there is.
I think that for an individual to contribute the most to society they have to enjoy providing whatever service they are. It is important for both the health of the individual and the quality of work that they will produce. No one wants to be treated by a doctor who doesn’t give his or her work first priority, and no one wants a lawyer to defend him or her who would rather be doing art. This is why I feel that taking time to discover yourself is important. Life is not a race. Many professionals will speak of the years that they spent studying to become who they are. Does it make sense to rush into a career to which you have to dedicate nearly a decade of preparation and millions of dollars if you are unsure? Even if you need to take an entire year to figure out what you’re ultimately going to pursue and where you’re going to study it, a year of uncertainty is better than a lifetime of regrets.
Finally, I think we need to strive to become less judgmental of the paths that people take with their lives. They may have to forgo tertiary education due to finance; they may decide to take some time off working because their mental health, or they may just be searching for their passion. In any case, the point of the matter is that just because you don’t know what your next step is right now, doesn’t mean that you’ll be perpetually lost. If you really use the time productively searching for your passion, I promise it will not be wasted.