I know I’ve posted about this before and honestly not that long ago, but since I’m a high school senior, this is something that I’m being forced to consider and something that I feel a great deal of anxiety about. I continue to find it absolutely ridiculous that in the eyes of the law, I am not considered mature enough to decide who I wish to marry, I’m not even considered mature enough to make my own healthcare decisions (I had to fight with my parents to get anti-anxiety medication to help me cope until the exams) and yet apparently everyone thinks I’m mature enough to decide on what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.
First things first, I’m really, really sheltered. My family is upper middle class, I’ve never had financial worries of any kind (until recently when we’re starting to look at universities and that’s kind of an issue…but that’s another matter) and I’ve not been exposed to the real world. How is it at all possible for me to make a reasoned decision considering important factors like employability, expected salary, standard of living etc when I have never been exposed to any of the problems that are associated with not being able to find a job, or having a job that barely pays the bills. I’ve never experienced hardship of any kind, and my decision-making really reflects that.
Secondly, I’m seventeen. I’ve experienced probably less than a third of my life (17*3=51…I think I can assume that if my depression doesn’t kill me, I’ll likely live to be more than 51) and despite the recent posting on identity, I still haven’t figured out mine. If I can’t even figure out my sexual orientation with any certainty, and I’m only just beginning to develop a strong values system, how can I be sure that what I think I want now is what I actually want?
Thirdly, I have mental illnesses that distort reality a bit. In the careers decision, I think my anxiety is really distorting how I see things. I could be hedging my bet, going for the option I think I’m most likely to succeed in, or I could genuinely desire that option. I don’t think I’ll ever know.
That’s a lot of negativity…and at least some of it is probably driven by my anxiety and worries that I’m going to make the wrong decision and either be subject to “I told you so” or soul-crushing regret.
In favour of my ability to make this decision, I may not be old enough or mature enough to be making the perfect decision, but I’m still already more mature than my ten-year-old self, and honestly, if I wait until I’m ready before I make every decision, time is going to go by far too quickly. If I let my anxiety rule my life like this, I’ll never find happiness, because I’m just going to be waiting for a day that will never come. I’m never going to be ready, and I’m probably about as ready as I need to be to make a decision that I won’t regret because even if it ends up being the ‘wrong choice’, I can still answer to myself because it’s the best decision I can make at this time.
As for whether at seventeen I can determine whether what I want now is what I actually want… my teacher was talking to me earlier today and I said “I’m seventeen, I doubt what I want now actually means anything”, to which he replied that he didn’t think I was the type of person to make decisions without carefully thinking about them or decisions without regard for the future (which is actually what a good friend of mine said about me a few months ago). He’s right that I should probably trust what I want now (as much as I don’t like to admit it, he normally is). Even if it isn’t what will make me happy for the rest of my life, it is, at the very least, going to make me happy now, and as my teacher pointed out in the same discussion, life is short.
Whether or not I’m ready to make this decision, I’m going to have to make it, so I might as well have more faith in myself. There’s no real point in doubting myself or my ability to make the right choice for me. I need to stop listening to the people who tell me that I’m not mature enough or rational enough to make the decision and start listening to people who believe I can do it. My mental illnesses introduce enough negativity into my life, I don’t need to listen to the negative people.