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When I Grow Up

This is supposed to be one of the best times of your life. You are still young, you have opportunities to participate in music, athletic, and other organizations, and still hang out with friends. You are old enough to choose the fun things you want to do, independent enough to do them without mom and dad always there, and young enough to still be able to do them. Yet there are so many pressures on you about your future, you don’t even have time to enjoy the present. Everyone wants you to plan your entire life, right here, right now. So all you can ever think about is what’s going to happen when you grow up.


Traditionally, people made career choices after high school or even after four years of college. Even now, people sometimes change their career focus during or after college. But the job market is so competitive now that waiting that long or changing so late is a big disadvantage. Career interest surveys are commonplace in elementary schools. At an age where you shouldn’t even be thinking about what you want for dinner that day, you are being asked to choose a career path for the rest of your life. You haven’t even had the life experiences to make an informed career decision. 


College used to be a way to get ahead and get a better job. Now a four-year degree is a bare minimum needed to get just about any job. Applying for colleges was something you started in your junior or senior year of high school. Now, school guidance counselors are pressuring you to select classes in middle school that will put you on the correct path to the type of school you want to attend, based on the career choices you are being asked to make so young. Career fairs and classes to help you with testing and essay writing also start as young as middle school. Students as young as second or third grade are visiting local college campuses. There is already so much pressure at an age when kids should be playing hopscotch and tetherball.


Expectations of your career and college choices also come from cultural pressures. Some cultures put pressure on you to choose certain professions, whether it be for financial reasons or just the specific type of job that is traditional to that culture. Other cultures may put a lot of pressure on you to become the first generation to attend a four-year school or to get a master’s or doctorate degree. Many professions are specifically frowned upon because they will not give you financial independence or improve your financial standing. Unfortunately, cultural pressures do exist and are difficult to go against.


This pressure is the most intense. While your family wants what they think is best for you, they often forget that you are the one who can truly make the best choices for your future. They may pressure you to continue a family profession or business. They may pressure you to attend a certain school that your parents or others attended. They may place an expectation of the level of education, or at least the type of field you go into. If you are the first person in your family to potentially attend a four-year college or university, then they will put pressure on you to attend, even if you’d rather have a job that does not require a degree.


Perhaps you already have a plan for your career and post-secondary education. Or maybe you have no idea at all. However, the pressure coming from so many other places is not helping. When all you want to do is play video games or hang out with friends, the last thing you want to do is to worry about choosing a career, choosing a college, getting into a college, planning how to pay for that college, taking the tests for college, keeping all of your grades up and taking the right classes for college, and more. It. Is. A. Lot. Of. Pressure.

This pressure does not need to bury you.

You can break it down into manageable steps so that it is not a mountain weighing you down. You don’t have to do it alone, either. Some of the same people that seem to be putting pressure on you can be helpful to talk to and discuss all of your options. Doing this might even help them realize how much pressure is on your shoulders, and maybe they will ease up, too. 

Choosing a career or college doesn’t have to be a burden, either. It can be fun. Make plans to try fun, new things and explore your world. If school is weighing you down, find interactive experiences that will help you learn the curriculum from non-book sources.

Sometimes the pressure is real, but sometimes, there is more perceived pressure that you create for yourself. You can find a program that will help you to sort it all out and find ways to ease the pressure you face. You don’t have to spend every minute worrying about your future. You can also enjoy the here and now, and learn how to manage stress now and for the rest of your life. Learn how to separate the “when I grow up” from the fun of actually growing up. Now.

Diffuse the pressures of your life with Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today. You can have everything – your future and your now.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.