So young lady, what do you want to do?

My name is Hannah and I am passionate about…well I don’t know.

This is the predicament of my poor sister. She has been told by school that she needs to pick a subject to study at uni. Now. And it better be something she has read a lot about. And it should be something she has had work experience in. And if she wants to be employable then she should have already started writing to companies. Oh and of course, most importantly, it should be a subject she is passionate about otherwise she may drop out of uni.

This is the same predicament I was in 10 years ago. It’s not easy at all. You’ve been told your whole life what you should be learning and now that you’re 17 you’re finally asked what you would like to learn about. The trouble is that most 17 year olds haven’t yet had the opportunity to find out what they’re naturally inclined towards. There’s just no time for free perusal of the wide range of subjects offered at uni, a lot of which aren’t taught at a-level. There’s no time to find out for yourself that actually History can be interesting, just you’ve never got on with Mrs Snodgrass and her teaching methods were dull.

I only found out what I was naturally inclined to want to learn earlier this year when due to a having a job with lots of free time I suddenly had the opportunity to explore different topics at my leisure. Speaking to Hannah’s teachers showed that I am by far not the only one to take the wrong degree option. In fact I was lucky because my subject was very interesting. There are many people who go to uni doing mathematically based subjects when really they excel in essay writing, or studying a science when they prefer working with people.

How can we excel in our careers if we do not yet know ourselves?

Hannah is an intelligent girl who has 12 GCSE’s at an A* grade. She’s trekked for a month around Cambodia. She’s performed over 10 main roles in shows in and out of school. She is a member of a successful Young Enterprise company. She can speak fluent Spanish.

At the moment Hannah is defined by her intellect and the events that have shaped her.

How can a young lady who has done so much in the past 17 years really grasp who she is without having the time necessary to digest and philosophise over these events and achievements?

In my opinion, teenagers need to go on an extended retreat, or a working year where they have the freedom to think and the freedom to explore. By the end of that year they then may be able to define themselves by their beliefs, morals, opinions and ideas. They will be able to know what they have a passion about, what they are naturally inclined to want to know and what kind of person they are.

Hannah has been put under alot of pressure but I hope that she, and other teenagers, manage to find some space to think and be themselves so that they can really find their passion.

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