What I can gather from people with actual talent is that it can be pretty damn difficult to have that talent translate into a genuine career.
For me, it was easy – I always knew I wanted to be a hot mess growing up, so, after working hard and investing hundreds of hours into self-destructive behaviour, I finally made it. My dream was complete.
If you do happen to be stuck in limbo though, it can be incredibly daunting not knowing what route to go down after high school.
Do you take a gap year that could turn into a gap life? Do you work with your father in the coalmine and develop black lung? Do you move interstate and spend five years getting parking fines because you’re “new to the area”? It’s tough.
The good news is that the decisions you make right now won’t necessarily dictate what you’ll be doing in five, ten or 30 years time. So just go with what your gut’s telling you and take it from there.
Of course, that’s easier said than done, so here are a few other options to help you make an informed decision about your future.
Decide if you want to study something you’re good at
There are two different variations of this.
The first is that whole sitch where you may be a banging piano player, but you’re scared that if you turn your hobby into a job, you’ll lose the passion.
The second variation is for those out there who absolutely aced certain subjects in school but found them hella dull. Do we just go down that route because it sounds the most promising?
My suggestion would be to investigate further. A lot of the time, a class you might find boring in high school actually has a lot of different paths you can follow at uni.
For instance, if you killed business studies, there are about a thousand different business degrees at uni that you can take in a variety of areas, and some of those areas are bound to tickle your fancy.
Ask people who are older than you (but not too much older than you)
The beauty of being new to the adult world is that literally billions of people have come before you to crash and burn so you don’t have to.
Chat to current and former students to see what they did right (but most importantly, what they did wrong), ask older friends who started working straight away what their thoughts are and speak to professors even if you’re not sure about uni, because professors are usually no-bull.
If you want a completely unbiased opinion, avoid talking to people who are overly invested in your future.
Give yourself a short-term plan
To prevent a serious fifth-life crisis and to save cash on paper bags, it’s always good to know that there’s an out for whatever you’re doing at the time.
If you’ve decided you want to take a gap year, mock up a rough plan for when you return. That way, when your parents/guardians/goldfish start to wring their hands, you can hit ’em with a plan to calm their farm.
Same goes for studying at uni. At USC, you can do a Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP) which means you can test out whether the uni life is for you before you fully commit.
And if you do start a full-time job straight outta school, a resignation is just a letter away so don’t start getting claustrophobic just yet.
Be open to changing your plans
Remember: how you feel now, you might not feel in a couple of years.
Sure, it’s good to have goals and dreams but if those change at some point, there’s no point pursuing them just because that was your OG plan.
The more information you have access to and the more experience you get, the more likely you are to switch paths. The best you can do at the moment is research as much as possible so you’re making informed decisions from the get-go.
Suss out some relevant degrees
Even if your mind’s already somewhere in Mexico and you can practically smell the freedom, it’s always good to look into courses you could potentially take, either instead of, before or after a gap year.
And I know, some of these courses sound intimidating just by name alone – law, business, social science – but don’t do what I did and just ignore them because they sound too hectic, actually look into them. You might find that there’s a niche pocket in any degree that gets your gut going.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to turn a blind eye to possibilities.Image: Billy Madison