This week marks the beginning of my final quarter of high school; for seniors like myself, the future has become more prevalent than ever in our thoughts, conversations, plans—nearly everything.

However, while this hybrid feeling of anxiety and excitement is shared by nearly all of the senior class, our differing paths and ambitions lock each of us in our own individual fears and struggles.

There is a certain “college experience” that each high school graduate is taught to pursue their whole life: move out of your childhood home for college, live in a dorm, get a degree in four years, pursue the career that correlates with your major, etc. Most young adults who stray from this specific formula are condemned. People who take a gap year, or decide not to attend secondary school, or even those who pursue what’s considered an unconventional major are looked down upon.

It is okay to be lost—there is nothing shameful about not knowing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life or what the future holds for you.

I do not mean to devalue the importance of education; personally, I believe that if one has the means, it is important to get an education that helps them to better understand the world around them.

However, there is no specific blueprint to success, no matter how hard one tries to formulate it. Whether you’re one of Broadway’s most successful playwrights, like Lin Manuel Miranda and attend a four year university, or you are Lady Gaga and drop out of school while working three jobs just for the opportunity to pursue your passion, success (in whatever form you consider “success” to be) is within your realm.

On the other hand, not everyone has a passion, and that is also okay. The pressure put on teenagers and young adults to figure out exactly what they want to do with their life, and as early as possible, is a constant and unnecessary source of stress.

Personally, because I am planning to stay in state and live at home for university to save money, I’ve been feeling as though I’m being robbed of a true college experience; I know that I only feel this way because I have been fed the idea of what the ideal college experience is like for my entire life, but the idea that staying at home somehow equates to failure is still a common attitude that a lot of my peers hold.

Internally, I know that this is not true. Staying at home does not guarantee that myself or anyone else who aspires to leave their hometown will get stuck there. In the grand scheme of things, where you attended college does not truly matter.

All in all, just know that it is okay to be lost. There is nothing shameful about not knowing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life or what the future holds for you. No matter what your post-graduation plans are, do not judge others for pursuing their own path.