It’s a really tough question to answer, one that people seldom think about.
I feel like we often confuse what we want to get out of our lives and experiences with why we were put on this earth to begin with.
My close friends and I often joke about what we thought we wanted to be when we started college. I was so set to be an accountant, and I was crushed (or so I thought) when I didn’t get into my university’s business school. I remember spending the subsequent week dragging my feet around the house as if I had no purpose at all from that point on. Albeit I had no reason to feel like I was destined to be an accountant besides the fact I knew it paid well and I “didn’t like any other majors”.
If I'm being real with myself, I know I was not meant to crunch numbers because I genuinely love math. Am I a hypocrite because for the past 6 months my 9-5 is in accounts receivable? Yeah, probably. But I'm taking this opportunity as a high school student does with concessions at the movie. I know it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I have a lifestyle I want to sustain by my own means. Of course, there's nothing wrong for being in a position even past high school - it's just the analogy I'm using.
The experience of finally starting college versus the overwhelming reality are on opposite ends of an emotional spectrum. At least it was for me. Living away from my parents for the first time in 17 years, making new friends outside of people I've known since fifth grade - it was all exciting. But it was a little too much freedom I wasn't used to all at once. Going from having to ask your teacher if you could use the bathroom (and possibly being told 'no') to deciding what you want to spend the next 4 years learning was tough.
I didn't come out of high school knowing exactly what I wanted to do besides get a degree, get a good job, and get paid. I've been spending the last few weekends watching World's Strictest Parent's on YouTube and in one episode, the host mom asked one of the unruly teens what they wanted to do when they grew up. Their response was similar, they didn't know what but they just wanted to get money. Although it took not getting accepted into business school for me to get there, I finally had a major and needed to find a way to make it fit my interests.
The vital turning point for me to turn my major into something I would love was turning my personality and emotion into skill. It seems like a no-brainer now, it's basically how we write our resumes. But I really had to thank God that accounting did not work for me because no fiber of my being matched with that profession. I always knew I had a big heart. When God gives places these traits within us, the real world application is up to us. I didn't realize my calling to serve despite my desire to volunteer and care for others.
The verse I put on my graduation cap was a brief summation of the balancing-act I faced in college.
"But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tested me,
I will come forth as gold." - Job 23:10
College was a TEST, I know I do not speak for myself when I say that. Although I am more aware of who and what I am called to be, I know I'm not done learning about myself. To anyone who still feels like they are soul searching for that answer themselves, just take your time. It's stressful entering your junior year of college and your pending degree is "undecided". But I made it out alive with a greater understanding of who I am and who I want to be. I am beyond thankful for the experiences I had considered as roadblocks.