I find it interesting that developmental research often stops at or before 18 years old. I find it pretty presumptuous to assume that someone knows who they are before they can legally take a sip of alcohol. Even socially, this is reinforced by the life-changing decisions we have to make in our early 20s: schooling, marriage, children, career. The assumption is that you will “know yourself” well enough to make (presumably) life-long commitments. And if you mess it up by changing careers or getting a divorce, then you’ve given up, you’re behind, you’re lazy, or you haven’t tried hard enough.

Your options are to live a proud committed life to the single decision you made in the past, or allow yourself the freedom (and the labor) to recurrently check in with yourself and authentically pursue what feels right at each stage of life.

But here’s the truth: You are never a finished product. Life is a constant journey of growth, change, and self-discovery. The notion that you must “become” someone by a certain age is a myth. Society’s expectations are often at odds with our personal evolution. We are continuously influenced by our experiences, relationships, and the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Imagine if instead of asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we asked “Who are you becoming right now?” This shift in perspective could alleviate much of the pressure we place on ourselves to meet an arbitrary standard of success or self-fulfillment. It acknowledges that we are always in a state of becoming, and that it is okay to change direction as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

Embracing this mindset can lead to a more fulfilling life. It allows us to adapt, to find new passions, and to live more authentically. We might change careers several times, learn new skills, move to different places, or shift our life goals completely. Each change is not a failure, but a step towards a more authentic self.

So, give yourself permission to evolve. Embrace the uncertainty and the possibility that who you are today may not be who you are tomorrow. And that’s okay.