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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

How do you get to know yourself?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7894points) February 8th, 2012

I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.
I don’t know what career or job I want because I don’t really know myself: what I’d be good at, what I really like, etc.
I want to go to college, which everyone is advising me against, because in this economy experience is valued more than anything else.
I’m afraid that if I go, and I don’t have a goal or career I want in mind, that I will be wasting time and money.
How do I get to know myself? I’m 16, so I have a little time to figure it out, but how do I know what to do?

Does this question even make any sense?

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15 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

The last time I looked, simple jobs like computer techs (i.e. part replacer; video card goes dead, install new one; mouse doesn’t work, install new one) required a computer science degree. I’m not sure why anyone would advise against college. Not only that, but you find friends and contacts that you may keep for a lifetime. Not only that, but it’s a good time to find out what you’re interested in and what you aren’t. Take different classes, join different clubs, see what’s clicks in the melon and what pushes you away. There’s a lot of experiences you can have.

I wish I had gone.

Coloma's avatar

There are many online personality tests that are great tools in learning more about your drives, temperament and best suited career choices. Finding a good fit is absolutely locked into ones personal style of relating, creative drive, introvert/extrovert approach to life amongst many other factors. I’d google ” personality and apptitide tests” and give it a whirl.
Check out the Meyers/Briggs and Enneagram tests.

I am an ENTP ( extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving” type. I am highly creative and free spirited and thrive in creative environments that allow innovative and explorative freedom. This is why I am an entrepreneur type and excel in artistic professions such as interior design, writing and any environment that allows creative expression.

I am a huge believer in not trying to fit square pegs into round holes. :-)

marinelife's avatar

College is not a waste of time and money. it is just the opportunity you are looking for to find yourself and to know yourself.

It is four years when you can do nothing but focus in yourself. It is a unique opportunity in life.

College graduates will always make more money than non-college graduates even in the same job.

poisonedantidote's avatar

First of all, having a collage education is never bad. Yes you will get in debt if you get a good education, and yes it will slow you down getting any full time experience just yet, but going to collage is still a good idea.

If you don’t go to collage you will be looking for work, and you wont have an education to offer the employer just like you still wont have any experience to offer the employer. It is a lose lose situation.

“Hi, I’m 16, I have no education and no work experience, can I have a job?”

“Sure… Any good at flipping burgers?”

What you want to do is figure out what you are passionate about, and once you know what it is that you like, go and get an education that will help you do that.

You will also want to diversify your study to make sure you have an education that will allow you to do other things as well as what you are passionate about.

While you study make sure you take on plenty of part time work so that you can gain somje work experience.

Like this, you will find your self in a position with experience as well as an education, and you turn a burger flipping lose lose situation in to a well paid win win.

Don’t listen to what friends are saying, remember that they are also only young and this too is their first time being alive on this planet, they know as much as you do if not less.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Is this a common problem with people my age? Not knowing who you are or what you like?
@Coloma Maybe I should take some of those tests. Do you know any reliable places to take them?

mrentropy's avatar

I think it’s a common problem with people your age all through time. For most folks, anyway.

Rheto_Ric's avatar

You’re not alone, and you have a choice: you can spend a lot of time worrying about what you want out of life, or you can get on with living it. The more you do, the more you try, the more chance you’ll have of discovering what are your likes and dislikes, and these can certainly influence what type of work you go into. After all, there’s nothing worse than spending your working life doing something you have little interest in.
Now of course trying many things can cost a lot of money, but you are young. You have a good ten years (at least) to do whatever work funds your explorations into life. College can be an important part of this, unfortunately these days it can saddle you with debt for life, so to go or not to go isn’t so clear-cut.
What I would say is that, whatever you choose to study if you do choose to go to college does not mean that you are stuck on that track for the rest of your life. I’ve found time and time again that it’s not what you studied that’s important, but the fact that your are able to achieve grades, to put in the hard graft in whatever subject you choose.
Better to take your time in discovering who you are, so that when you hit 40 you have less chance of having a mid-life crisis!

BosM's avatar

Well, I am not one who advised against college. I suggest you do a few things. First, talk with your HS guidance counselor about eploring career interest paths using computer-based career/educational guidance systems like the MBTI or Strong Interests Inventory to help identify areas of interest to you.

Second, ask a guidance counselor about Liberal Arts schools. These colleges expose you to a lot of different academic and professional careers that help you figure this out.

Finally, relax, don’t worry about this. At 16 most teens are still trying to figure out who they are never mind what they will do for the rest of their lives. It will happen in time, but it seems to me you’re asking the right questions and are ahead of most in doing so.

6rant6's avatar

If you think the only reason to go to college is money, you need an education.

Coloma's avatar


As I mentioned, google the tests I suggested, there are tons of free ( and paid ) online personality/apptitude tests. Just another tool for self knowledge. Leave no stone unturned, and, bottom line, there are no guarantees in life, college or otherwise. Lots of people change direction several times in the course of a lifetime.

bkcunningham's avatar

When I was in high school, just after the Ice Age, we had to take aptitude tests with a number 2 pencil. We then discussed the outcome of the tests with a guidance counselor. Don’t they do that anymore?

@Aesthetic_Mess, do you have any hobbies or interests? Things you enjoy doing or you are good at? Have you ever had a part-time/summer job?

Buttonstc's avatar

There is an excellent book entitled: “What Color is Your Parachute?”

Even tho the subtitle speaks about job seekers and career changers, it’s really much more about getting to know yourself well.

There’s a quote from Fortune Magazine which states that “this book should be read by every tenth grader and once a year thereafter”

Dont be put off by the fact that It’s been around for half of forever. It is still pertinent today.

You’re the perfect age to begin reading it. It’s around twelve bucks or so on Amazon. You’ll not regret spending that since its wisdom never goes out of style.

There are some good reviews of it there also. Enjoy.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@bkcunningham I work as an assistant to my sister who is an insurance broker. If it’s one thing I can rule out, it’s insurance.
@poisonedantidote That’s the trouble I’m having…figuring out what I’m passionate about.

If I do go to college, my main goal would be to get a skill that I can use in today’s workforce. My main goal in life is not to make excessive amounts of money and get rich. That’s the trouble I’m having- seeing what’s needed today and trying to figure out if any of those things are what I want to do.

Thank you guys!

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Coloma I took one test, though not sure how reliable it was and I am a INTJ- Introverted Intuition with Extraverted Thinking

dabbler's avatar

There are lots of aptitude tests and they are very useful, they will tell you some things you could be good at doing.

Unfortunately they do not necessarily show much about how happy you will be doing that kind of work. I found the Kuder Preference test to be especially illuminating. The results of that show how closely your preferences match those of people who are very happy in their jobs/careers.
Some of those careers will seem impractical (e.g. ..don’t have the physique to be a circus acrobat), some very practical (that is my best school subject!), but you can imagine yourself in each of those careers near the top of your list and see if you feel some interest and motivation to get the skills for it.

Sorry I don’t know where you can get that administered for free. Maybe a counsellor can hook you up. There are probably some other tests like that. I highly recommend something like that alongside regular aptitude testing.

p.s. Above is all about job/career, which is of course important. Regarding “get to know ones self”, look into meditation. It can help sort out all kinds of things beyond work.

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