Paris Andrew, TIP’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement, is here to help gifted students. She used to run the residential programming at TIP’s educational programs, and she is completing a PhD in related areas, so she knows what she’s talking about.
I have taken several career assessments and they all say agriculture but I don’t know if that’s what I want to do. When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian but now I can’t handle blood. So I am still unsure what I want to with my career. — Star
The best thing for you to do right now is to recognize that you’re in the exploration stage and still weighing your options. Make the most of it by worrying less about where you are headed and concentrating more on the joy of learning new things and meeting new people! Eventually, all of your interests and experiences will converge and the right future for you will become clear. In the meantime, look into all kinds of options and try to move beyond what you read or see to get a peek at what that career would really be like. For example:
- Look at documentaries that take place in a field you are considering.
- Look for books — fiction or non-fiction — written by people in fields you are considering and try to get a sense of what it feels like to be in that field: what the challenges are, what the rewards are, what the work-life balance is in that field.
- Go to YouTube or other video sources and search for interviews with people in the fields you are thinking of and pay attention to the same kind of information mentioned above.
- Ask your parents, guardian, or other trusted adults if they know anyone in the fields you are thinking about and if it would be okay to suggest that they let you shadow them for a day in order to to get a firsthand look at life in that area.
- As you get older, look for internships or volunteer opportunities in specific fields you are interested in and see what it’s actually like to work in that field.
- Pay attention to what you’re studying in school and when you discover a topic that you find so fascinating you didn’t even notice you were studying it — take that as a clue that this might be a field you would be very happy working in.
Finally, remember that preparation is never lost time. By not rushing this decision, you are more likely to make the right choice when the time comes. Better to be a teenager still deciding on the right career than an adult who is still exploring the same question because they failed to give themselves enough time to do it as a young person! Good luck!
(Adapted from a question by a younger reader because it is so relevant to all ages.)
I need some advice on how to make me and my sisters close again like we used to, because now we just fight and make our parents lives harder than they should be. — Gymnast 4 Life
Dear Gymnast 4 Life,
I too have a sister, and we went through many stages of togetherness. Just like gymnastics, your engagement with each other can involves lots of twists and turns — but it sounds like you are also looking to walk the balance beam of life with them as well. Here’s what I recommend:
- Consider ways you can support your sisters in something they are working on, like making a pact to attend each others meets or other extracurricular events to cheer each other on. When they do well, go out of your way to congratulate them. When they are disappointed in their performance, take the time to cheer them up and cheer them onward! In other words: be each other’s biggest fans!
- Set ground rules together so you respect each other’s privacy and desires. For example, no borrowing clothes without asking the owner first; no reading each other’s texts or snooping on their computer without permission first; or no barging in when they’re with their friends without permission. These rules apply to all. Let your parents know you have agreed on ground rules and ask them to set appropriate consequences when someone fails to live up to their end of the bargain.
- Ask a question before you yell back. By this, I mean that most sibling fights start because someone comes roaring into a room already yelling full volume at their sibling. When this happens to you, stay calm. Try not to react in kind. Take a deep breath. Then ask, “You seem upset. Can you tell me why you’re so angry?” You may have to ask a few more questions that show you are truly interested in how they feel before they calm down and start to talk instead of yelling.
- If you are in the wrong, acknowledge it and move on. Siblings are in the unique position of being able to hold a grudge over the smallest thing for a lifetime. Don’t enable that kind of behavior. Life is too short and siblings too precious for that. If you violated a sister’s privacy or accidently hurt their feelings, admit it and indicate you would like to make amends and move on. For example, you could say, “I’m really sorry I read your journal. I won’t do it again and I won’t repeat anything I read. Is there anything else I can do to make you feel better?”
- Set aside time to have fun together! Just because you are all busy with your own lives, doesn’t mean you can’t have special time together. For example, decide all of the sisters are going to have Sunday breakfast together and swap updates on their lives (make the whole family breakfast together that same day to give your parents a break!). Agree on a movie night once a week and take turns choosing the movie. Or decide to have a sisters-only sleep-over once a month in the family room or biggest bedroom. That way, your older sisters can remember what fun sleep-overs were like when they were younger and the younger sisters can get a sneak peek at the (exhausting) fun of sleep-overs.
- Let your sisters know you love them and don’t want to spend all of your time together fighting. After all, one day, when you head out into the big, bad world, because you come from the same background, the support of your sisters will be very important to keeping you grounded as you go through changes in life and in understanding what the world is like. Prepare for that day by acknowledging the importance of having sisters now. Then suggest the ideas above.
By the way, this same advice can go for brothers. 🙂 Good luck — and have fun!