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Teenagers, Would You Please RELAX?!

Question on Quora:

I’m 13, turning 14 in January. I don’t know what I want to be or what I like. What do I do?

My answer:

Be you.

Society has a nasty – and freedom-stealing – habit of equating career/job with who you are.

Who you are has little to do with how you end up making a livelihood. Who you are will lead you in a certain direction, but where you end up in the workforce will not define you.

You will change. Throughout your life. Every decade, you will look back and be amazed at how much you’ve changed in the past ten years. That’s as it should be, because if we ever stop growing that means we’re dying.

Still, there is a core you. A you that has many years of development ahead.

I’m 49. What I want “to be when I grow up” looks very different than what it was at age 20. And at age sixty, I know I’ll be looking back and thinking, “Wow, have I changed that much in ten years?”

So, what do you do first? Be you. Explore what that means. What books interest, even excite you, when you start flipping through them at the library (fiction and non-fiction)? What YouTube channels do you watch, and why? Those kinds of things give you a hint at the stuff you’re made of.

What do you do second? Explore, try new things, have fun. Ask your parents to take you to as many cultural events and places (arts and crafts shows, plays, museums, etc.) as possible so you can be exposed to different things. That’s how you figure out what you like.

PS – Did I say to have fun? Have. Fun. For goodness’ sake, enjoy this time of freedom and no major responsibilities. You never had it so good.

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