Teen came downstairs for a chat the other day. It’s something she’s started to do more often as she’s transitioning to adulthood, and I really enjoy the discussions we have.
This one was different though. It started out pretty much the same, me chatting about video ideas, her chatting about things that had happened with the cats/the game she was playing/how her sister was annoying.
Then, out of nowhere, came the avalanche of panic, overwhelm and distress. She had been thinking about her future (she has plans to move out of home ASAP as we’re all annoying to varying degrees) and it suddenly hit her that she had no clear path to get to where she wanted to be.
She’s always had what might be called ‘alternative thinking’. She’s very much a free spirit, not one to be dragged down by expectations. Part of that is a rebelliousness towards the exam system and how that leads to employment.
To some extent I agree with her – exams never have shown the full ability and nature of a child. She is academically bright and could pass most of them, but she doesn’t think a piece of paper should dictate her future.
Sadly though the world is yet to catch up, and so her desire to avoid exams makes everything else in her plan very difficult. Every now and then, this hits home, and she descends into a panic about ‘how her life is going wrong’ because she should ‘have this all figured out’.
It saddens me to see her putting so much pressure on herself to have her life planned out. At her age, I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but all that changed at 18 when I was told by teachers I wasn’t bright enough for the path I’d chosen.
I had no plan B.
My world fell apart.
I fell into work through an agency, taking on various roles over the years but never really felt comfortable with anything.
It’s not important to have a clear path, especially at such a young age still. This is the best time to experiment, to try new things, to see what sparks joy in your soul and what doesn’t.
I just hope that I can help her see that one day.