Not knowing what you’re good at isn’t a bad thing, and neither are gap years
As you grow up, dream jobs come and go as interests evolve. After graduating high school or college, some will have a smooth ride and pursue their first career choice. For others—the majority, I’d say—the road will be bumpier. They will have to fail, to experience and to rethink in order to find the right path.
Not knowing what you are good at, what to pursue in university or as a career can be frightening, especially with the societal expectation to have a certain level of success.
With an educational system combining core knowledge and a hands-on approach, some young Canadian students have opportunities to discover what they excel at. However, not all schools offer the same options, and sometimes students are forced to hastily choose a career before they’ve even finished high school.
When students have to quickly choose which degree to pursue, it can lead them to switching majors once or twice over the course of their education. It is normal to switch programs and to not know what career you should follow.
In fact, only one third of youth under 25 make their career decisions during their early 20s, and only 16 per cent have the same career expectations from age 21 to 23, according to a study published in The Daily.
Finding your forte is a complex challenge that requires trial and error, mainly through personal experiences in and outside of school. It is also important to be well-aware of the strengths and weaknesses you have which could block your learning process in some way.
One solution to all of this questioning and confusion can be a gap year. A gap year at any point in your student life can give you time to test the waters—to find your likes and your dislikes, gain experience, discover new interests and, of course, save money.
I took a gap year after graduating high school. I had great plans to study microbiology in Scotland, but I realized I was not good enough for any scientific field. It took me only four months after graduating to figure out that microbiology would have driven me straight into a wall.
During my gap year, I spent a lot of time just thinking about what my academic strengths were and I tried to relate them to my personality. I concluded I am someone who is curious, but who cannot stick to something for too long, including studying. I didn’t have any strengths at that point, except speaking English.
It was only after looking for something to match my interests and my personality that I stumbled upon journalism. I never thought I would pursue this career, nor that I would ever write for a newspaper. Yet here I am, an extremely exhausted but blooming student.
Time, reflection and a will to experience are your best friends when it comes to figuring out what you are the best at and what to pursue in university or as a career. Mistakes and changes will always happen—but they should never stop you from thriving or figuring out what you were meant to do.
Graphic by Thom Bell