Is there a right age for finding one’s way? We are convinced that it is never too early or too late to
understand who we are and that, today, knowing how to orient oneself is a real necessity.
Statistics in fact tell us that • every year one out of 5 students makes a mistake in choosing which high school to attend;
• 3 out of 10 students regret their choice of university right from the first year;
• fixed-term employment contracts are on the rise and the permanent job is disappearing;
• the world of work is changing rapidly and new jobs are emerging;
• life expectancy is lengthening and the recent pandemic has forced us to look for a meaningful life project.
These trends force us to train our self-orientation skills and continue to educate ourselves.
We, counsellors who specialise in school guidance and career reorientation, have also re-invented ourselves several times and for assorted reasons: poor career choices, relocation, changing priorities post-maternity. Thanks to our history, it came naturally to us to want to support others going through similar situations.
We are convinced that knowing how to orient oneself is a fundamental skill that should be acquired as soon as possible and that can be reused during every transition in life.
We believe, however, that it is important to base the choice of learning how to navigate this not on external reasons, but on internal ones: starting with oneself, exploring one’s talents and passions and then checking what the world has to offer in line with the identified ingredients.
For example, we ask those who have to choose a high school to create an alternative report card where they can indicate grades for commitment and interest in each subject. It is a new way to tell the story of one’s schooling.
‘I had never looked at school and subjects from this perspective,’ says Nicholas, 13.
‘I realised that my passion for science experiments is important and I want to find a school where I can learn by doing.’
Starting with self-knowledge is therefore crucial at any age.
Matilda also realised this during her post-graduation journey: ‘It was very helpful to start not with the options, which
are vast and endless and can be overwhelming, but with what I like and am passionate about.’
Discovering one’s passion to project oneself into the future is not, however, always a simple matter. Regarding making choices post-high school graduation, our aim is first to identify a professional goal and only then do we explore the different possible paths of study to get there.
We also encourage teens to expand their horizons in search of multiple career options to see what interests them most.
We generally encounter 2 scenarios: on the one hand, there are those who have ‘too many’ interests, and on the other hand, those who feel ‘at sea.’
‘My problem is having so many passions and interests,’ says Alice initially, but at the end of the journey she says: ‘I managed to discover myself, to identify my priorities for a future job, putting together different interests, such as journalism and fashion.’
Seeking one’s own path is not only possible, but also necessary as one grows older. We support adults in their search for alternative stories that can put them back in touch with their resources and strengthen their identities. This approach, derived from Narrative Practices, values the uniqueness of the individual as the sole expert on their own life, helps them break free from limiting labels, and supports them in their search for a new, preferred story.
Those who go through a crisis during a period of transition (separation, bereavement, layoff, pandemic…) need to restore their identity and (re)find meaning through a new narrative of their experience.
Matilde, 30 years old, writes: ‘This path has allowed me to focus on both my skills and my goals; what I took for granted is, in fact, a resource.’
Raffaella, 55, who is in the process of ‘rethinking’ her career, says: ‘Being supported has allowed me to reflect deeply and clearly recognise my values, my motivational drivers, my criteria for choice.’
‘Know thyself’ said the ancient Greeks. ‘Become what you are,’ added Kierkegaard. ‘Do what you are,’ we conclude.
Start your personal orientation journey as early as possible and continue it throughout life. It is never too early or too late to (re)become the author of your own life.