Bright Places, How To, Life, Social Life

How to Find What You Love to Do

At some point in our adolescent years people will ask, what are you going to do with your life? What are you going to major in? What kind of jobs would that major offer? What kind of school do you want to go to? What extracurricular do you do? And pretty soon you get the feeling you’re supposed to know by now. Because my chromosomes lined up a certain way, I essentially popped out knowing what I wanted to do with my life (fingers crossed I’m right!).

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For the rest of my peers who do not know exactly what they want to be doing in ten years, these questions are difficult to answer, yet they are expected to answer them at a young age. You decided to apply for a major in architecture? Where are your advanced math and art classes? Why didn’t you join that engineering team? Because you decided late (which, really, feels more like early because you’re still a teenager), you’re possibly missing out on opportunities that others were able to experience. However, that’s not to say you can’t be the best in your chosen field. Many people also decide to switch majors or do a double major. Your life is never set in stone.

Here are some tips for how to find what you love to do because, let’s face it, nowadays you need to decide pretty early or you could end up with a degree you can’t use or student debt with no job prospects in sight. Beyond just which boxes you’ll check on your college apps, finding what you love to do will keep you happier in life. Your job won’t feel like a nine-to-five grind and you’ll probably find more success in that field. These five tips will greatly help you figure out what you want to do with your time. So, let’s get started!

1.       Know your likes and dislikes. What classes do you excel in? What classes are a struggle (and not the good kind)? What extracurriculars are you good at? Are there any clubs you love? Think about where in your life you find success and happiness the most. If nothing comes to mind, I would suggest trying more things. It can’t hurt, right?

2.       Take the hardest classes you can do well in. I know this is the last thing on people’s bucket lists, but it’s important. Even if it feels like you’ll never need to know any of it again, taking hard classes helps prove to colleges and organizations that you can adapt and deftly handle adversity to find success (namely, your grade). As much as I wish our school experience didn’t revolve around a set of numbers, to a certain extent, it does. Try your best. Ask for help. Seek out new opportunities for growth.

3.       Be open and friendly, especially with adults. Regardless of introversion or lack of experience, you can make positive connections with people who may offer internships or volunteer opportunities. Chin up, back straight, look ‘em in the eyes, shake hands, project your voice, and impress them. Practice makes perfect. You are much more likely to get recommendations and contacts if you act in a professional manner while still being your genuine, amazing self.

4.       Okay, this is gonna be a hard one to hear. Sports are wonderful. There’s a lot you can learn about life and camaraderie through sports. But, unless you are actually confident that you will be a professional in that sport, and so few are, it can be a big distraction. Academic work and volunteering are very important aspects of your career. Please don’t undermine other opportunities and your own skill for the sake of a sport. If you’re wanting to explore internships, volunteering, or part-time work, you need to keep your sports schedule in check. Don’t let coaches convince you their sport is your most important extracurricular. If you’re wanting an internship at an art museum or your local legislature, then pursue that and spend your time after school there.

5.       Seek out opportunities. Ask if your favorite museum has internships. Email a local person with an interesting job and ask if you can shadow them for a day. Ask your favorite teacher if they know of youth volunteer positions. It never hurts to ask. It is YOUR job to find these opportunities. This is an important skill. Do a little research, send a few emails, and I know you will find a great outlet for your talents!


MollyPaulMolly Paul is an honors student at Saint Mary’s School. She is the founder and director of Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption, which re-homes unwanted pet turtles, fundraises for conservation organizations through the sale of Molly’s Turtle Soap, and educates youth through STEM Leadership Camp.