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Letter to past self: the next chapter of our life

October 20, 2021

Dear past self,  

 The next chapter of our lives is coming faster than expected and many people are demanding answers to many questions, but I am here to tell you that it is okay to need a moment or to say that you don’t know. I am one of the lucky ones. From a young age I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up and what steps I had to take to achieve it but not everyone is like that and that’s okay.  

Some people enter college or trade school or the job force right out of high school and know exactly what they need to do to get the job they want. For example, I know I will be going to the University of Nebraska Omaha and major in Elementary Education and minor in Psychology and ended up being a teacher. My Grandpa knew when he was in the third grade that he was going to be a dentist. People who know exactly what they want to do have some of the stress of the next chapter of their lives relieved and they have the ability to answer some of the many questions that are thrown at them. But that is not the only successful way to enter the next chapter of your life.  

Another option is going and getting a higher education but only taking general education classes or getting a degree in a subject that interests them without an exact career in mind. My mom, who is now a nurse, spent her first year in college taking liberal arts classes since there were no general education classes. When she finally decided on a career she switched to that major. Another example is my sister, she is in her final year of getting her bachelors of science degree. She majored in psychology because she knew she enjoyed that subject and now she is figuring out what career she wants in that field. Both options were successful ways to handle the next chapter of one’s life.  

Another controversial option is taking a gap year. The idea that eighteen-year-olds should know exactly how they want the rest of their lives to be is crazy. For the majority of our lives, we have been told what to do so deciding the rest of our future is a huge choice. For those people who finish high school and are overwhelmed by the decisions that come with graduation, a gap year can be very beneficial. Whether they travel, work, get an internship or try out different hobbies, it is a way for them to experience the world and narrow down the options. An example of this is my dad. Instead of attending college right out of high school he worked. He was not planning on attending college because the career he was planning for did not require it, but life went in a different direction. My dad ended up going to college and he now has a PhD in Political Science and is a professor at UNO. Now, not all gap years may end in people attending college and that is also okay.  

I do believe that the direction this world is going in higher education is important, but it does not guarantee success or happiness. With this new chapter of our lives coming so quickly it is important to think about what will bring you happiness. Being young is the time to have adventures, make mistakes and experience all that life has to offer. So, don’t get all caught up in the questions and the feeling that you need all the answers because there is not one singular path in life. Life is meant to be experienced and enjoyed. So not knowing what you are going to do is okay because you have your entire life to figure it out.  

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