It's Ok to Not Know

Photography by Nabeela Parkar

Photography by Nabeela Parkar


There are so many expectations placed on young people, both by society and ourselves. Be full of energy and ideas, bursting with enthusiasm and excitement, but also don’t forget to be sensible, mature and grounded. No pressure, right? Having said that, being young is also a wonderful time of growth, learning and exploration. These years shouldn’t be spent in despair over school and other worries of the youth. They should be cherished and lived to the fullest (more pressure? Oh the irony of life). There are so many opportunities to make exciting decisions and take charge of your own life, on your own terms.

Whilst all of this is exciting, it can also be daunting. Trust me, I get it. I’m currently in my last year of high school and in South Africa, which is my home, my years of compulsory education are drawing to a close. What I choose to do next year (and hopefully for the years that follow) is completely my own choice, and on my own terms. Exploring possible career options and universities is scary and thrilling all at the same time. The year feels as if it simply flying by. An ongoing internal struggle is wanting this year to last forever but also wanting it to be over right now. It feels a bit like life is a treadmill that’s going just a little too fast for me to catch my breath.

I know where I want to end up. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to get there.
— Nabeela Parkar

Something I’m learning is how important it is to keep an open mind with regards to your future. Whilst being dead set on something isn’t a bad thing, make sure that you don’t close other doors for yourself because you think you have 100% made up your mind. Leave room for discovering new things, research and learning. I know I have changed my mind about my plans multiple times over the past year. The thing is, I know where I want to end up. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to get there. And whilst my indecisiveness made me anxious and a little frustrated at first, I’m also learning that it is normal. I am allowed to change my mind twelve times. I am allowed to feel good about something one day and then a little unsure the next day. I am allowed to learn new things and realise that maybe that is a better fit for me. It comes with the territory. And it is okay.

I’m also learning that I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t have to explain to my distant uncle twice removed why I don’t want to be a doctor. I don’t have to explain why I’ve changed my mind yet again. I’m allowed to be unsure. And so are you.

If something is meant to be yours, it will be yours. I honestly cannot stress this enough.
— Nabeela Parkar

Something that often gets thrown around is “do something you love and you will never work a day in your life.” This quote is supposed to evoke some kind of inner inspiration but it just makes me want to roll my eyes and maybe even yawn. I’m not working yet, but I do know that this seems a tad unrealistic. You can be passionate about something and still not love every second of it. It can be hard. It can challenge you. It can make you want to cry sometimes. It doesn’t mean your passion isn’t real. It just means you are.

The mass media, social media, society and all the other culprits of enforcing unrealistic ideals on the masses, like to portray this image of a teenager leaving school with their whole lives planned out. Let me tell you something friends. Life is not like the movies. I’m learning this very quickly. Stress probably will not make your class burst into song on the basketball court. A mini cry session on the benches at break is probably a little more realistic. So when the credits of your high school career roll, you don’t have to have your whole life planned out, your bank card loaded, your skin cleared, and then proceed to ride off into the sunset with the love of your life (although if that is how it works out for you, that’s great). It might be messy. It might involve lots of tears and worry, maybe even some sleepless nights. But just remember that you will end up where you are supposed to be. If something is meant to be yours, it will be yours. I honestly cannot stress this enough. So take some deep breaths. Plan the parts you can. Work hard. Make it happen. Stick by it. Wing the rest. Just make sure you are living, and not just getting through the days.

Nabeela Parkar is one of our monthly Comeback writers. She has a keen interest in writing and would be more than happy to read her way through an entire library. She enjoys being challenged and facing tasks that require her to think for a little longer. She is fascinated by maths and science and also have a deep appreciation for the ocean, mountains and the natural world at large. She is currently in her last year of school and is on the path of deciding what to do with her life as of next year. She’s an avid believer that whilst everything happens for a reason, taking action towards achieving your goals and dreams is key.