Growing up is something that I have thought about a lot recently. With leaving college, thinking about my next steps and turning 18 it isn’t surprising, so I have decided to write a series of posts reflecting on the pivotal moments over the last few years that have led to my self growth, independence, and ultimately, growing up.
It started when I was applying to university. I was overwhelmed with panic pretty much 24/7, I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, and it terrified me. I felt too young to be making such significant life choices, but I made them anyway. I sent off my application and received my offers before I actually stopped to listen to the voice in my head saying ‘stop!! I’m not ready for this!’ Instead of thinking about what was actually right for me, I had blindly followed the stereotype that if you’re smart then go to university, without allowing myself to think realistically about alternatives. So I told myself that I would defer for a year. This calmed some of the panic but not the continuous question of ‘is this what I really want to do?’
It’s hard sometimes to take a step back and let things be, and to let life take its course. If I had accepted my offers immediately, I wouldn’t have given myself time to fall in love with health promotion and public health. It’s also hard to let go of the expectations you have of yourself, and perhaps that other people have of you. When I found my dream opportunity, an apprenticeship in public health, I found myself facing criticism from teachers. Why wasn’t I going to university? An apprenticeship isn’t the right route for me. ‘You’re making the wrong decision.’ When faced with this feedback from people whose opinion I respected, it was hard to believe I was making the right choice. I was turning down a place at a top university, on a prestigious degree course, to gain a qualification at a level I had already achieved. I had to remind myself of my passion, and my belief that this was the right option for me.
It was also hard to remember that very few choices that you make will impact on your life irreparably. If I finished my apprenticeship and no longer wanted to work in public health, then that was fine. If I turned down the apprenticeship for a gap year instead, that was also fine. It can be very easy to blow minor things into massive proportions, and it can be hard to take a step back and see how things really are. Trust that you are making the best decision for yourself in the current moment.
When faced with opposition, it can sometimes be hard to remember why you are making the choices you are. Never let anyone tell you what you ‘should’ do, instead remember what you ‘want’ to do. It is never too late to change your plans, and no one else’s opinion should stop you from pursuing a personal goal. Learn to trust yourself, and your ability to make the right decisions.