What Do You Want to Do? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     “What do you wanna do in life, man?” I hate this question. What I hate even more is what I automatically spit out every time.

“I don’t know, man.”

It angers me that I do not like my reflex response. Lots of people have no idea. Relax, James, everything is going to be okay. Still, it seems that the age when students begin to choose their professions or concentration of study is getting younger and younger. I am worried and have been since the eighth grade, so this mania above my neck and below my hair is nothing new.

It isn’t all bad, though. At least I know what I do not want to pursue. I have never been good at science and math is not my forte. However, beyond my aversion to classes in the newest building of my high school, I have no idea what I want to do.

My favorite artist, Trey Anastasio of the band Phish, wrote a song called “Waste” about an undecided man who knows nothing about himself except that he is in love. I am not in love, but nonetheless, “Waste” resonates deeply with me:

“Don’t want to be a painter ’cause everyone comes to look/Don’t want to be anything where my life’s an open book/ ... Don’t want to be a farmer working in the sun/Don’t want to be an outlaw always on the run.”

If you were to set aside the outlaw lyric, all of the professions mentioned are certainly admirable. I just cannot picture myself being any of them, or a person who works from 9 to 5 in a cubicle every day. I have trouble waking up before 1 p.m. on Saturdays, so being in a suit and tie by 9 a.m. would probably not be the best idea.

Let’s think: I could be a policeman. They often work at night. No, too dangerous and I am not very brave. A tax lawyer? Negative, not enough free time and I have never paid taxes. I could be a video-game tester. Nope, not enough physical activity and way too much free time. A cook at Stake & Shake? No, too safe and I would not look good in an apron (Only about 10 Americans can actually pull off wearing an apron: George Foreman, Martha Stewart ... well, that’s it.)

I find myself constantly thinking of potential professions that might suit me, and rarely do the voices in my head ever come to a consensus.

Most days, after I recover from the panic my pessimistic brain puts me through, I realize that I have a while to decide. The more choices I have, the more likely I am to find someone who can deal with this crazy soul.

“A dream it’s true/But I’d see it through.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 3:19 am
i love this so much!
therealHAEDYN This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm
i was reading through essays to try and get inspiration for one i'm supposed to be writing at this very second, and when i came across yours, everything just stopped. What you wrote is exactly how i feel and it has been killing me that all i hear is, "what are your plans for life?" or "what college are you wanting to go to?", because i have no idea, im still deciding. So thank you for writing such a great essay:)
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