This is a question we are faced with many times in our lives. The first time it happens, we are very young, maybe in pre-school or kindergarten. It is phrased as the ever so innocent "what do you want to be when you grow up?" Kids usually answer the standard "firefighter!" "ballerina!" "doctor!" "princess!" "pony!" My answer was always "I don't know!" Wait, that's a lie. For a bit I said I wanted to be a vet because all my friends wanted to be vets but then I found out I would have to operate on animals and I couldn't bear the thought of cutting somebody's pet open. In second grade I went through a phase where I wanted to be a marine biologist because it sounded smart. That didn't last long. And besides, I get seasick.
From then on, we are constantly bombarded with this question about our futures. In middle school, we had an assignment to interview people who were in the profession that we someday wanted to be in. I interviewed my gym teacher. I didn't want to be a gym teacher. It was just easy and didn't involve me having to talk to a stranger or ask for a ride anywhere. Besides, when I had my free period, there was a really cute boy in gym that period. Oh middle school...(somebody ask me why I chose saxophone over clarinet...it has a similar answer).
In high school, the pressure is on even more. They had all sorts of career day programs for us to learn more about what we wanted to do in life. My high school took it a step further and introduced this program called Connections that put us in groups with other students who had similar interests to us. Since I finally started saying I wanted to do photography, I was stuck with the "artistic" group which was pretty much the same thing as "Music Department" aka the kids I already spent all of my time with.
Then we come to this time called SENIOR YEAR. I'm gonna take a wild guess and assume that's where most of you are. When you're a senior EVERYBODY is asking about your future, and I mean EVERYBODY. Your homeroom teacher, your friends (especially the younger ones), your track coach, the school nurse, your friends' parents, YOUR PARENTS. Honestly, you're much better off making a sign that says "I'm going to ______ to major in ______" than repeating it 40,000 times over the next six months.
Let me go off topic for a moment...my high school also threw us this epic post-grad party the night after graduation. It went from 9 pm to 5 pm. Parents spent finals week decorating the school with a pirate theme and many volunteered to host games and activities for us. They even brought in some entertainment including a hypnotist. The hypnotist selected a random group of students from the audience, hypnotized them and let us all watch the results...oh if only YouTube was big back then like it is now. ANYWHO at one point, the hypnotist told the kids to pretend they were back in kindergarten and it was their first day of school ever. (Here is where the emotional part of me had to break out the tissues...some of those kids were in my kindergarten class on my first day of school ever!) He asked them all sorts of questions including "What do you want to be when you grow up?" They all answered the standard little kid answers...the things that kids really want to be before they get it in their heads that firefighters don't get paid enough for the risks they take and med school is hard and well...okay I guess you CAN'T be a unicorn.
After this you graduate and go off to your college of choice and major of choice and for awhile the only time you're asked about what you're doing in the future is when you come home for break and see some relatives or friends you haven't seen in a while and need to give them a little reminder. However, if you pick a major that doesn't have a set career path (por ejemplo - Visual Media Print Media) you might have a little explaining to do.
Eventually after many exams and papers and long sleepless nights, you will reach the point I'm at. Senior Year 2.0. Yes, there's another one and once again, everybody is on my case about what I'm going to do when I graduate (in approx. 22 weeks). Part of me still doesn't know what I want to do when I grow up. I feel like everything I hear about, I want to do. I want to go to law school. I want to be a high school photography teacher. I want to go to Disney World in Japan and be a Disney Princess (Cinderella, thank you). I want to be an admissions counselor. I want to be the next editor of Vogue. I want to do it all.
There's this song that came out when I was in sixth grade called "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)". I'm sure you have all heard it at some point. It's not so much a song as a speech set to music. It starts out with "Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 99...If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it." In the middle of the song there's a part that goes "Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life...the most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't."
So...to the ladies and gentlemen of the class of 09...whether you are graduating high school or college...don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. Join the club.