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I don’t know… I am lost… What do I do? I’ve hit my all new low.

A few days ago I felt like I’ve hit my all new low… I don’t know what major to do in college nor do I have a interest in any majors or what college I want to go. Despite going on many college tours in-state (Massachusetts) and out of state, all of them stood out to me, but I cannot choose one because they have great benefits in different areas. In the end of the college searches none has really grabbed my interest, I just thought it was like High School 2.0 with harder classes and more responsibilities.

Not only college have lacked my interest but my major and career goals. I’ve done some shadowing and summer programs over the summer to see what I like, but from business to working at a hospital, I did not feel that click or attachment in any of those fields. I also took a Real Estate class with a friend to see if I do like it, I do like it, but I don’t feel the drive or passion like the other programs/shadowing. I just feel lost about my future career or what I even want to do.

What do I do? Should I take a gap year to further figure out? Or should I go into college undecided? I am open to any advise or comments.

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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Zachary’s Answer

Aaron,
Let me first say this while the question reads that you might feel as though you are alone and lost I promise you that is not the case. As a high school senior that puts you around 17/18 so not knowing what you want to do is commonplace and a gift, as much as it may not seem like it at the time. Secondly I applaud your honesty and courage because it is far harder to admit you are lost and ask for help than it would be to just go through the motions and enroll and do whatever is convenient/ easy/ most lucrative.
In my experience not getting the right answer in terms of career path as well as other pursuits comes down to us asking the wrong questions so I propose this, what do you like, what do you enjoy to do in life in free time, what is the something that you find yourself making time for, that you devote time to maybe without realizing it.
Start with a list here put those things on paper and use that as a starting point, college academically is sort of kind of like highschool 2.0 but it also adds snippets of life responsibility to it and removes the outside structure, and factors in more things that need to get done, waking up on time in the morning, laundry, time management, and a work as well as school schedule if that's something you have to consider.
Knowing now what I do I propose a two part action:
1. I would still go through the application process to solidify a spot somewhere as it sounds like you want to continue your education, and doing so now leverages the external support of guidance counselors/ college coaches/ allows you to utilize the support staff at whatever school you are accepted. ( do not discount community colleges either as the quality of teachers do not correlate directly with the price of tuition)
2. since you are uncertain at this juncture I would defer for a year and work/ explore various jobs, jump around if you work somewhere and don't like it find another job being young you have the luxury of time , and low overhead.
3. I know I said it was two part but ... with each pursuit focus not on if its something you want to do forever but on in what way you can learn and add value to yourself lessons etc, as each experience teaches us either what we want in part/ whole or what we don't want.
I hope this was somewhat helpful

Zachary recommends the following next steps:

make a list of what excites you,
Explore speakers like Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk
Continue your education in any form reading working, attending school learning is a lifelong process that occurs in all of life not just a classroom
Ensure you have many open doors for your educational future when you are ready.
Be Brave enough to suck at something new, embrace the learning opportunities( aka mistakes) you facilitate for yourself, find people whom embody what you think success looks like and pick their brains
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Zachary! Aaron
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PwC’s Answer

Never forget that every opportunity is a good one. Even if it sucks, you learn what is not meant for you.
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PwC’s Answer

It's ok not to have everything figured out. Take your time and make career decisions that feel right for you. Even if it seems like everyone else knows what they're doing, they probably don't have EVERYTHING figured out.
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PwC’s Answer

You are not alone! Trust me it might feel like it, but I promise you that you'll be able to figure things out. Even if it's not the path you want
it is a path nonetheless.
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PwC’s Answer

You will have many journeys in life. Allow yourself to explore. If you feel something is not working, try something new!
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PwC’s Answer

Take a deep breath; it’s perfectly okay not to know what career to choose or what the future holds. Some great steps to take to figure out what you want to do might be to think about what you love to do, what empowers you, and what problems you wish to solve in the world… list out your interests as well as your strengths, and lean into those to guide your passion and decision. Try many different things, be open-minded and learn as much as you can. Again it’s ok not to know. And it’s okay to change your mind and pivot.
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PwC’s Answer

Whenever you get the chance, ask people in your life what they do for a living and how they got there!
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Jason’s Answer

Hello Aaron! The effort you've put in already is extraordinary by almost any measure so I hope you don't think it's a lack of trying that has you feeling the way that you do. To me it seems you like you describe yourself at a low point because you may be placing a lot of pressure on yourself by thinking you are behind in having figured out all of this stuff already. Like what was previously suggested, it could help you to take a figurative step back from trying to find the answers to everything and start first by thinking about who you are and what you want for yourself in the coming years. Don't worry about necessarily figuring all of it out immediately, but by starting from these kinds of questions you can create for yourself a kind of fill-in the blank roadmap that you can fill-in with different options or possibilities to help you reach whatever particular destination you have in mind. More importantly, this might help eliminate options from the seemingly endless possibilities that are in front of you. Having too many options often makes it harder to decide, so eliminating options may make deciding a path to take easier.

For example, say you decide that college is your next step because you need that first to help get to the kind of life you think you want, but there are so many options. Ask yourself questions like: Do I care about how far it is from home; Is it affordable for my situation; do I know anyone else going there; how big are the class sizes; what kind of student life or involvement opportunities are there? Some of these won't matter to you, but come up with as many as you can to eliminate those that just won't work. Of course, you aren't likely to figure out every detail of your future just by choosing what college to go to, but if it's the first step on your roadmap then it helps lead you to maybe your next important question like what experiences do you want to have while you are there or what things do you want to try that can help make it these more meaningful experiences overall and less likely to be seen as a waste of time.

You've really stumbled into an important lesson with your realization about your future and that is that just being there for something doesn't mean that you will get out of it what you want or need. Just being in college doesn't mean you will have the experience you wanted or needed to live the life that you are happiest or most satisfied living. Maybe those things won't come from going to any college or maybe you need to be more intentional in what you do while you're in college to ensure you aren't just wasting your time and money. What you decide is important, but so is how you decide. Deciding to take a gap year doesn't mean just not going to school anymore, it means you're intentionally giving yourself time to search out what to do next so you make an informed decision that leaves you feeling more satisfied. And life goals can change along the way too. Maybe you chose a college for one reason, but your experiences there ended up taking you in a different direction. That's totally fine.

Anyway, good luck!
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