The Problem With Teenage Indecision

Posted Aug 18 2016 05:50 AM

By Anand Satheesh

Our youth are suffering from an epidemic of indecision. As much as 80% of college students admit to still being uncertain about their major. At least 50% of college students change their major at least once before graduation. Even after college, 27% of students end up working in a field unrelated to their major. You can even test this out for yourself. If you ask the average high school or college student what they want to do with their lives, they either say, “I don’t know”, or they say something very vague. This is a major problem.

Indecision is a habit that starts in grade school and takes on permanency as a child goes through high school and college. With each passing year, students seem less and less sure about what they want to do. Kindergartners when asked about their future plans will answer with shining eyes and excited voices, and they will express a big dream that they have such as making a scientific breakthrough or becoming number one in the world at a sport. How does a child go from the excited kindergartner with big dreams to the confused teenager struggling to dream about anything? The answer is that today’s youth are caught in a tug of war between the attraction of passion one side and societal pressure on the other.

The unfortunate thing in society is that we have defined success in terms of how we are able to provide for ourselves and our future families and by little else. We have made providing the ultimate and put passion for something on the wayside. Due to this, kids lose sight of what they are supposed to do. The main weakness in our education system is that it breeds indecision in our youth. This is because all it teaches us is how to provide and survive. What needs to be understood is that there are far deeper things in life that can only be experienced through following your passion. There is far too little education on aesthetics and beautiful things. Today’s education is always about the necessities of life rather than the ornaments that make it beautiful. There is no education on how to come to your full flowering as a human being. This needs to change.

A human being is born as a seed of potential. The difference is that unlike plants and animals that cannot deviate from their growth path, human beings can deviate from themselves through free will. However, just like plants will be damaged if they are deviated from their natural path, humans will also be damaged. A human being is happiest when he does what he loves.

Some people have a natural love for sports, others for sciences and others for art. The profession that makes a person’s eyes shine at the very mention of its name is the profession that he should go into. He should not go into anything else. If he settles for anything else, he will have compromised on himself and ruined his entire life.

There have always been professions that have been needed by society. In the current age of innovation we are in, the focus seems to be on people in technology and science. There is nothing wrong with these professions and they are beautiful provided that they are what a person’s inner path is leading to. If you go into them just because they are what society says are the jobs of the moment, you will be stunted in your growth as a human being.

On the other hand, society has never needed people like writers, artists and sportspeople. These people make up the aesthetics of life. They adorn the world and enthrall us all with their work. However, they are not needed for survival. The world can function just fine without them. Society often puts down many of these people. They advise kids to go into the “safe” profession and let these exceptional people do their thing. If you dream of something, society, through the influence of parents, neighbors and teachers, try to snuff the dream and put you in the professions that are needed by society.

Between the pull of dreams and the pressure from society, a child suffers utter confusion and one of two things happen. Either they ignore the pressure society and live happily doing what they love and doing great things, or they listen to society and end up in a job that is “in demand” but not the one that their heart demands.

Don’t worry about what other people say and feel free to dream. If your desire is unselfish, it will come true, there is no other option. The only caveat is that you have to let your work possess you and the rest will happen naturally. You simply have to eliminate confusion and do what you love wholeheartedly. If you serve the world with boundless love, the world will give you boundless compensation. On the other hand, if you do not do what you love, you will end up with a heart full of regret.

My dad is a filmmaker and he was helping as a line producer for another film. While he was at the casting agency, a 60 year old woman walked in, but she looked 10 years younger when she performed and it was clear that she was deeply in love with acting. After her performance, my dad asked her why she was so interested in acting at her late age. She said that she had always wanted to be an actress ever since she was a child. However, due to pressure from her parents, she quit acting, got a degree and held a high office in the government. She didn’t hate her job, but it never really gave her happiness despite the high pay. A few years ago, she got cancer and she promised to herself that if she survived, she would dedicate the rest of her life to acting.

The poor woman was deviated from her passion for years and needed almost a half century and a cancer diagnosis to reorient herself back towards her passion. If she had made a decision to do what she loves instead of caving from societal pressure, she could have acted for many more years and spared herself the decades of apathy towards her job. Do not make the same mistake. Take a decision to do what you love, do it greatly and decisively.

The average person is going to have at least 60-80 hours of work a week. This accounts for the biggest part of the average person’s day with the average person working 8.9 hours a day. The average person spends 7.7 hours a day sleeping. If you are going to be doing something for more time than you sleep, it better be something that you have dreamed about and deeply desire. Otherwise, the majority of your life will be a monotonous drag towards retirement.

There’s this truly stupid cliche, “Keep your

Outliers is an international bestseller that has forever

In 1993, a book of stories was published