I walked into my room a few evenings ago to find a workbook on my bed. I forget the exact title, but it was something along the lines of "Finding Purpose in Your Life." I leafed through it briefly to find various scripture in the margins, a lot of talk about discovering one's passion, and arbitrary fill-in-the-blank response sections. The writing was sort of geared for the high school junior or senior struggling to take the next step. A gift from my mother. Ouch.
Everyone will tell you--in my case, especially my parents--there's no pressure. I'm young, there's no time limit, I don't need to know exactly what I'm going to do. In fact, I hear that it doesn't matter what I choose in the end because my folks will love me no matter what and are already proud of me. I suspect what they tell me is all true. I think after the initial shock of me deciding I was going to take a year off from school to work, they're more or less prepared for anything. They're wrong though; there's a ton of pressure.
It's easy to get so worked up just watching ads on television, or hearing the latest accomplishments of my [extremely academic] friends. Even in the ideas I've always had for myself of what my life would be like when I got to be this age give me this sense that I'm already behind. Of course, there will always be that crushing feeling as long as I'm trying to squeeze myself into a little box of what or where I "should" be by now. There is such freedom in recognizing the only life goal for me to pursue is that of holiness before God, and that it doesn't come through striving in my own power.
In 1 Kings 3 Solomon sought wisdom before financial gain and was rewarded for valuing God's will so highly. Matthew 6 records Christ telling the disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and not to worry about their physical needs. I can't tell you how liberating it is to put all of my ambitions on an altar before the Lord and ask Him to everything up until only His desires remain. Only He knows how many times I've had to repeat that scene--it seems like new pictures of "success" crop up constantly. It's something I'd recommend to anyone though. Give up your own desires to Him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.