The Age of Confusion
By Marie-Pier Mendes
From our strange uncles at family parties, to employers interviewing us for a job, the entire world seems to be fascinated by what students want to be when they grow up. Questions regarding the future seem to be centered around youth. It appears that once we’ve hit a certain age, our plans for the future become uninteresting; but how do students feel about their forthcoming being under a constant microscope? Do they have answers, or is society justified in calling them “confused”?
“I get asked about my future on a monthly basis,” says Ben, an 18-year-old Cinema Communications student. “Usually adults are the ones asking. It’s easy small talk and I’m open to talking about my future, even if I have no idea what I’m doing”, he jokes. Dawson’s Cin-Com program had first peeked Ben’s interest two years ago when he began looking at colleges. He claims that he “always had an interest in cinema and I didn’t know what else to do with myself. It’s generally an easy program, and I don’t regret my decision, but I’d like to switch into a music program once I get my certificate”. When asked which career he can see himself pursuing, Ben was quick to answer:“I’d love to pick music for movies, but as long as I’m having fun I don’t think it matters what I’ll be doing”.
For others, such as Massin, questions about the future pose much more pressure. Massin, a Pure and Applied student, says that he is asked every two weeks by his parents “what the hell he’s going to do with his life?”, which takes away the casualty of said “small talk”. “If I was sure of what I was doing, the question wouldn’t feel the same”, Massin explains, “but I understand why it’s being asked. The future is sooner than most of us think. My parents are just worried I haven’t realised that yet”.
Although Massin doesn’t have a solid answer regarding which career he’d like to pursue, the majority of students that were spoken to did. Second year psychology student, Nolan, didn’t hesitate for a second before answering that he aspires to be a cognitive psychologist. Same for ALC student, Dharma, who shot back right away that becoming a freelance photographer is what she’s striving for. “I’m honestly not sure where I’m going to be in my life in one or two years from now, but I know exactly what I want to be doing,” she shares.
Despite the majority of Dawson students knowing which career path they want to explore, when asked if they could imagine themselves somewhere precise in ten years, 98% replied that they absolutely couldn’t. Bringing the number down to five years enabled more conversation, with 60% of respondents implying that they would be in University studying their preferred domain.
After interviewing students from various programs, and hearing varied reasonings for their decisions, it’s safe to say that the average Dawson student is studying with a goal in mind, but is absolutely clueless when it comes to the rest of their future. “It’s so much scarier to be asked where you see yourself in the future rather than what you want to do”, explains 20-year-old Sarah. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I first stepped into elementary school at five years old. I’ve never had a doubt in my mind about that”, she continues, “but sitting down and thinking about where and who I want to be once I achieved that is impossible. At this point in our lives, we are reinventing ourselves constantly, so putting standards for your ten-years-from-now self is setting yourself up for failure”.
With this in mind, it appears that students have been conditioned to only answer one question about their future... but what about the rest?