The myth behind the question: “What do you want to do in life ?” | In defense of those who can’t answer.


Dear reader, 

Today, I want to talk with you about a really common myth existing in today’s society: the myth that we all should know who we want to be and what we want to do in life while being only around nineteen. It is indeed, depending on the state or the country you live in, the age at which we are usually asked this really strange question seriously for the first time. In the past, you were used to answer “princess”, and then, “doctor” without great conviction, but now, it is serious, you need to make a choice. This is the end of high-school. Before, you were used to follow the regular path, doing your best and thinking “I will know when I am older”. But now, you are older, and it is time to know… but you still don’t. Do not worry, you are not alone, I have been there too and I am sure we are far more than you think. Teachers tend to diabolize the whole process by making you think your choice will dictate your whole future, but I can tell you it is a lie. One choice can’t decide of your entire life, every choice has an impact, and a series of choices taken all along your life create your life path, but no single choice ever designed a whole entire life. It would be so boring, would not it? Let’s see together the reasons why this question is absolutely irrelevant, especially asked at such a young age, and what the truth really looks like.

The myth: a question we never really answer, an answer we always keep creating

Answering this question is like being a Sisyphus of the modern world, rolling our stone, and starting again every time we arrive at the top. Let me explain. When you choose to go to college, or not, and what college you will go to, you think it is okay. You think you have finally find your “life-path”. Not at all, Darling. The next year (in France but from what I have read, things are quite similar elsewhere), you will have to choose a major, and the year after, a sub-topic to study thoroughly  After your bachelor’s degree, you will face another dilemma: “Do I want to go for a master’s degree?” And two years after: “Do I want to go for a PhD?” Do not think it will be any different in your professional life: an opportunity to work abroad in a totally different firm, a proposition to become the manager of a team you do not know; things always change, answers are always needed. 

What I want to make clear here, is that you will always be presented with choices that will bring you in different directions in life. The choice you made at nineteen was just the very beginning, and three years later, when asked the very same question, you still do not know the answer even though you technically had to give an absolutely clear and definite answer three years before. The truth is that we humans simply try to find our way through all these choices, but we never really answer the question as we keep creating the answer every single day. 

The truth: human nature and the impossibility of a definitive answer

The truth, as we saw before when we discussed the whole myth behind this question, is that even though you were the most well-prepared student after high-school, ready to conquer the world, your answer to the question “Who do you want to be, what do you want to do?” will still be wrong. You can plan as much as you want, at some point you will feel totally lost as life never goes as planned. I personally think it is a beautiful thing, even though frightening. It means we can always be surprised, take new chances, and reinvent ourselves regularly.

You will actually change your mind as you grow, maybe just slightly, but you will change, especially being so young. You are just starting discovering both the world, and yourself, how do you possibly want to choose the right future for you now? You can’t, my Dear, your role is to go for a discovery, not for an answer. Does it mean that growing up is a mistake, just because it means your answer will fluctuate at some point? Not in my eyes, what about you?

Moreover, through the years, you will understand that there are far more options than the ones you were given in the beginning. Maybe you thought college was the only way for you to find a job you like but you meet someone who offers you one. Maybe you thought taking this or that class was the only way for you to go study abroad, but you become a teaching assistant abroad instead. The problem is not you lacking capacities or knowledge, it is you lacking imagination, Darling. 

To finish, I would simply like to add a truth that everybody seems to (want to) forget: none of us know what we are doing. Maybe you think I have my life so well put together, the truth is I don’t. Change your mind, discover, follow your instinct, the truth is you will never know who you want to be, what you want to do, and there lies all the beauty of life. 

Hoping I have been able to help you today, 

TABOULOT Camille

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