By Jalena Francis
How do you decide what you want to be when you grow up? When I was in ninth grade, my school issued career aptitude tests to everyone in my class. We all sat in homeroom for an hour, bubbling on our scantrons, and deciding at 13 years old the fates of the rest of our lives. That’s a lot of responsibility for a scantron and boys and girls who are barely teenagers. We got our results back the next day and eagerly shared our results. There were policeman and fireman, teachers and nurses, doctors and social workers.
My verdict was I should be an accountant, a librarian, a writer, and other quiet jobs for quiet people. Introversion was only one part of my personality but it became a deciding factor in what could be the rest of my life. Of course the teachers reminded us that it was just a suggestion, that we could do what we wanted, our results were only meant to help us by revealing who we were.
It’s tough being 13 and feeling like the weight of your future is on your shoulders. You’re only a freshman and you’re asked to decide a career, then focus on college or a trade, all with a single test as reference point. Here’s the thing: one test cant adequately reflect all that you are. You might be a nurturer, but also love excitement. You might be analytical and also creative. There’s too much of who you are to summed up in a single test and you don’t even know all that you are and could be at only 13-years-old.
When I was 13 I was really shy, I had a few friends, and I enjoyed writing as a form of self-expression. I also enjoyed playing soccer, making jokes, and being around people despite my introversion. It’s impossible to decide your whole life at 13 without figure out who you are first.
I decided instead of resigning myself to a life of accountancy I would learn more about what I like and what challenges I was willing to face in the future. Because I’m an introvert I can be soft-spoken and shy around strangers. I don’t let that hold me back because I don’t mind challenging myself to speak to others, to leave my comfort zone, and to express myself.
William Shakespeare wrote, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” Similarly, it’s not a test, or your mom, or your friend, or an online quiz that can decide who you are and where your potential lies. Only you can do that.