One piece of advice I wish I had been given when I was younger was to go out and explore my interests and passions before I graduated high school. I got a later start in life than others when it came to getting an education and figuring out what I really wanted out of life, what I really wanted to be. This is because I gave no thought during those high school years to what I would do after graduation. I wasn’t given a push to think about it, and I lacked the introspection to think about it independently. From my own experience, I believe using these years before graduation to explore your passions and interests is incredibly important.

             Not exploring my passions and interests in earlier years left me fumbling after graduation. I didn’t select a major in college for a few years, and eventually decided to get my degree in English. My only reasoning for picking this was because I was good at it. I had no inclinations towards other majors, truthfully, because I didn’t know what my interests or natural talents really were. Upon graduating, I found myself at a standstill. I wasn’t interested in any of the jobs I could get with my degree and found no joy in working retail jobs or traditional 9-5 office jobs. I had no clue what I was doing or what I wanted to do. Subsequently, I felt lost. My uncertainty led me into a depressive period. The questions of what I wanted out of life, what my passions and interests were, or what was possible for me confronted me all at once, and I had no answers.

             I was able to turn the corner after being given advice, support, and encouragement from my closest friend. It is incredibly challenging to analyze yourself and look deep within to figure out your talents, interests, and capabilities when you never have before.  This is not to say that it’s impossible; however, it is entirely possible. But it is, I believe, much easier to start developing these self-analytical skills when you are younger, and developing the habit sooner will make it second nature for you. Despite turning the corner, it still took me years, well into my undergraduate career, to fully realize my capabilities and what I wanted my life to look like.                 We are thrust into the “real world” upon graduating high school, and without a plan or even the beginning thoughts to a plan, we can struggle, just as I did. From personal experience I believe it is important to explore who you are, your interests and talents, and what it is you want out of life during those high school years. Think about what you want for your life and what you want to do outside of high school. You don’t have to have things planned out perfectly because plans can change. But I recommend having at least some thought or idea as to what your goals are. Think about what traits and qualities you possess, your natural talents.  Explore as many careers and professions as you can, even ones you may not think you’re interested in. That way, you can at least cross off the list what you don’t like, and in doing so, will become closer to finding what you do like. Also, if you try something you may like initially but discover it’s not right for you in the end, that is completely ok. We don’t always know how we will fit into something until we try it. It’s better to change your mind than stick with something you know isn’t right for you. Think about why you didn’t enjoy it. Keep exploring and analyzing yourself. It is important that you first and foremost listen to your own voice- your own thoughts- and no one else’s because you are the only person who gets to live your life. Let this advice resonate with you now so you can embrace those years after high school with confidence rather than fumble and struggle unnecessarily.   

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Rikki Ray graduated from Concordia University-Austin, with her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a minor in Psychology. Once she discovered how much she enjoyed these two fields, she decided she wanted to pursue getting her MD to become a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Rikki has always loved interacting and connecting with youth. She wants to directly work with kids and teens in a mental health setting, and support them in navigating their lives with mental illness. In her spare time, Rikki enjoys the experience of trying new things, and recently took up ice skating. She also enjoys journaling, hiking and being outdoors, checking out local food joints, discussing Harry Potter, and is always down to grab a cup of coffee (or two)! She hopes to provide Alonesy readers with content that is both authentic and relatable.

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