Some people grow up already knowing who they want to be. They have endless amounts of self-direction. They know what they want, and for the most part, how to get there. They give off a sense of high self-esteem.
Then there are people like me. I have absolutely no idea who I want to be. I have endless amounts of constant confusion and anxiety. I know how I would get from point A to point B, but is point B what I really want in life? I am questioning everything all the time.
I am sure that many teens can relate right now to my predicament. So too can many adults, who remember feeling this way when they were approaching adulthood. High school is that fun but often confusing and awkward stage in life where everybody just wants to fit in.
But actually, fitting in is like math class. Some people get it and some people, such as me, attempt to understand but it’s a lot more difficult. The funny thing is no one ever tells us that no one actually really fits in. Sure, everyone has similarities, but everyone is also unique. If we all fit in somewhere, we would be exactly the same.
When it boils down to career choices and the future, people definitely want to fit in somewhere comfortable to them. The hard part is the future is unpredictable and changes constantly. So then we begin to second-guess ourselves. Is this really me? Would I really enjoy doing this? Do I want to do this for the rest of my life?
I like to compare early adulthood, which is what I am in right now, to the game Candy Land. When we enter high school, we begin our journey. There are lots and lots of twists, turns and surprises along the way. Sometimes we spring forward and sometimes we take a few steps back. Each of us is learning and growing along the way. We all want to end up happily at the Candy Castle just like everyone else. We see it as a happily ever after and a magical way to fit in with everyone else.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The Candy Castle, which represents our ideal future and sense of belonging, is great indeed but not perfect. It has its own problems, too. The people there are still on a journey and still face challenges to get to another, bigger and better Candy Castle.
Think about playing the game. Why do we play it? People would often say it is to win, but that’s not always true. Everyone will eventually make it to the Candy Castle in the end and it doesn’t really matter who gets there first. The reason we play the game is for the challenges along the way. The best part is not the winning; it’s the 20 minutes we have struggling through the Candy Cane Forest or Ice Cream Ocean with other individuals who are struggling, too. We can tease and joke along the way and just enjoy the general feeling we have of taking the Candy Land road.
Sometimes teens, including me, are so worried about what the future holds that we forget to have fun along the way. For example, I want to be a writer. I am already worried about whether or not my books will be published or if people will even read them. The funny thing is, I haven’t actually finished writing a book. I’m losing myself in worrying so much that I forget why I want to even be a writer in the first place. It’s not actually to get my books published; it’s because I just enjoy writing and I want to share it. It doesn’t matter if I am good or not; I love it and that’s the whole point.
So my advice would be — to others and to me — to think less about the future and more about the present. To stop trying so hard to fit in, and instead, just be yourself. That’s when people can truly feel the happiest and a sense of belonging. Don’t focus so much on having a happy life that you miss the happy parts that are happening now. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Peatross is a senior at Tooele High School.