The Importance of Exploring Your InterestsBy Soni Rambharack
Planning your future is not easy. It takes years of discovering your skills and what you enjoy. Some interests are discovered at a very young age, from when you put on that superhero costume for Halloween, or when you assemble a drone Christmas morning, eager to play with it. What does this teach you about yourself? Maybe you’re a leader, the hard-working driven type. Your Wonderwoman costume choice realistically could mean you’re suited for a life in management or politics, a place where you could make a difference. Perhaps building a drone at age 6 means you’re innovative, your creativity skills running wild. You could be constantly stirring up ideas that can one day be a million-dollar investment. It’s often said that high school is where you find that “self-awareness,” yet, self-discovery is a long and ongoing process. Life is not a simple straight path and there is always room for change and growth. No matter what age, your experiences provide the basis for each next decision – what excites you for tomorrow. According to an article written by Suzanne Johnston, she says “[t]here’s a lot of pressure on high school students to figure what they want ‘to be.’” Her advice is to “[e]xplore. Don’t limit yourself to one area. Take all the classes. Follow your interests.” High school is an amazing opportunity to take risks and get involved, even if you decide it’s not something you want to pursue. The idea that students are expected to maintain an interest all throughout their life is undeniably unreasonable. You are expected to grow out of hobbies; to decide, maybe you want to give up soccer after six years of training. The hope is that by learning through these experiences, you are left with a better understanding of yourself and can adapt and influence any change to come in life; your future is yours to choose.
Post-secondary decisions can be overwhelming. You may have no idea about who or what you want to be. The process of finding what you like or dislike can be dragging and aggravating without the right resources. Every student has unique skills waiting to be unleashed, and new experiences are a gateway to these discoveries. High school can be the perfect time to learn more about yourself and to equip yourself for the future, no matter what you decide to do, and no matter how the path changes. Taking into consideration that there are several specialized courses, clubs, and programs, high school can be more than just the diploma. Once a student is willing to explore outside of their comfort zone, experience failure or discomfort, they become more equipped to take on whatever the future holds. Ian Wilson stated in an article by Suzanne Johnston, “If I were speaking with my Grade 9 self today, I would say find something you are marginally interested in, prepare yourself as best as possible, and buckle up and enjoy the ride! Put your effort into enjoying being in Grade 9… develop friendships, take chances and have fun.” Your freshman and sophomore years are more general and provide you with many opportunities to explore. There is so much to do, learn, and get involved in. For example, challenging yourself to take that advanced placement class can teach you that you like or dislike a fast-paced working environment. It can show that you work better when you are occupied, or when you are working individually. Similarly, working at the nearby food drive teaches you about teamwork and collaboration with your peers. Perhaps you prefer working with others and having a safe, welcoming work environment. All these experiences give you a little more insight into your preferred future. You may learn that you like coding, however, are you willing to work an 8 am shift? Do you like coding for larger companies where you are needed to collaborate or do you prefer working on individual projects? For these reasons and many more, it is important that you rid yourself of boundaries and explore what the world has to offer, as it may surprise you. Although putting yourself out there may seem daunting with the potential to fail, you learn from your failure, and there are many on the road to success. It is valuable to reach out of your comfort zone despite the challenges, as these experiences are what you grow and learn from. Each little internal discovery is another resource at your disposal to inform your own life. Lesley McGilp says, “[w]hen you’re young, you have less to lose and the cost of failure is lower (no car payments, dependents, etc.). It’s a great time to experiment and try new things. You have your whole adult life ahead to apply what you’ve learned. Whether it’s organizing a fundraiser or turning your science fair idea into a business, these are great experiences that build your confidence and skills, even if the first attempt isn’t a success.” Simple activities such as helping your parents put together your new bed or participating in a karaoke event with your friends, help you explore interests. Even though it may not be as evident, these daily experiences help you realize your areas of comfort or discomfort, and show you what an ideal, happy future looks like for yourself.
The Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics provided a brief report, stating “almost a third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once within three years.” The author Doug Lenderman continues, “Pearson said he was inclined to attribute the large proportion of students leaving math for other fields more to the reality that college students “are exposed to new areas of study, like engineering, that don’t have nearly as much visibility in high school” than to a decision against math.” As much as high school courses may prepare you for post-secondary studies, they can be limiting in terms of experiences and reality. Life can be surprising, and change is often freeing if you are well equipped. Surround yourself in different environments and see how you respond – learn about yourself. Internships, part-time jobs, and summer co-op programs are all ways to explore interests and grow not only for post-secondary studies but for life. Building-U is a company that helps high school students consider possibilities around areas of interest by providing them with several resources of opportunities all around North America. It’s a platform centred around the development of young-adults, focused on providing ways for them to become aware of more options, recognize their own interests and skills, and embrace the full extent of their capabilities.
- Johnston, Suzanne. “Things We Wish We Knew about Careers and Work When We Were in Grade 9.” Saskatchewan Research Council, 1 Nov. 2017, www.src.sk.ca/blog/things-we-wish-we-knew-about-careers-and-work-when-we-were-grade-9.
- Lenderman, Doug. Nearly a Third of Students Change Major within Three Years — Math Majors the Most, 8 Dec. 2017, www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/12/08/nearly-third-students-change-major-within-three-years-math-majors-most.