Twenty one came faster than I expected. I had traveled the world, graduated college, made a lot of friends in roundabout places, and I had a dream. Perhaps you too remember this time of life – when all the roads held possibility and excitement. I was thrilled to be an “adult.” I was responsible for my own life and the direction I would take. I knew where I was going and what I would do with my wonderful life. The world was my oyster. (Cliché, but true.) And guess what? Underneath all those black garbed days and confident strides in DMs, I was terrified.
If I could go back in time, there are a few truths I would want to tell my almost adult self. I guess that sending my second kid off to college on what seems like the other end of the planet has got me thinking. There is so much I need to still say to him, do with him. I want to hold him close, protect him and shelter him from the world. At the same time, I want him to fly on his own wings, to find his path and soar into his future. So I dedicate today’s post to him and all the other college bound kids out there. Of course, also to those moms – already worrying while excited to see their offspring headed out to make their way in the world.
Here it is, the post you will want to share: things I wish someone had told me at 18, 21, etc. Fill in your blank. I’m dedicating this one to my son, and yes, he knows.
- It’s not essential to know your passion. I was determined to follow my heart into the arts and writing. I wasn’t sure what path I would take, but I knew what I wanted, essentially. In general, the advice “Follow your passion,” is worthless advice. It can stress you out and do more harm than good. This is especially true if your passion differs from that of everyone in your family. If you truly know your passion (I hid from mine for a while, because I thought my family knew better), that’s great! If not, follow your curiosity. This is better advice because in searching for answers to questions your mind tosses out at you, you will ultimately find what you love.
- It’s who you know, not what you know that is the key to success. I was always a great student, especially in art and English. In college, I made Dean’s List every semester, and I thought that would open doors for me after graduation. WRONG. It’s all about who you know. I made a few connections that I am first reaching out to now. Some of them have wondered what took me so long. “Life,” is my answer. Getting myself out there for freelance gigs requires knowing who needs my services, and the introductions made by people I already know. And my clients don’t care if I had a 4.0 GPA, they just want to know if I have references and if I can do the job. Connections, not grades, but the grades are important too – don’t flounder.
- Life is about the here and now. Howard Jones sang it- “Don’t try to live your life in one day,” I tried. I lived loud and happy, and then I fell through a crack. I started worrying about tomorrow every day. Once you begin worrying about the future or trying to relive the past, you aren’t living. To fully experience life you need to be present. Mindful. (You knew I had to sneak this in somehow, 😊) So live every day for it’s own merit; make friends, study hard, and remember that these are the best days of your life.
- You create your meaning; you don’t “find” it. You’re going to spend a lot of time looking for what you’re “meant to do” with your life. Get over it. It can make your university years overwhelming and confusing. Finding your path in life is a passive thing unless you’re looking into medicine. Life is outside of your control, go with it. Create your meaning; get involved with projects and activities that make you feel. I used to be a PIRG person, and it made me feel useful, environmentally sound, happy and fulfilled. It gave me a sense of purpose and therefore meaning. So get out there and find yours, make it happen, and be happy. Being active in things that make you feel good and useful is how you “control your destiny.”
- Be careful about who gives you advice. People in general, myself included, love to give advice. But here’s the thing sweetness, people give advice based on their experiences and who they are, not on who YOU are. So my advice, listen to it all politely, then take advice from the people who have made the same journey that you want to take. If you love the arts and writing, for example, don’t go into education, unless of course, you love sharing that love with others. Be true to you, and remember, advice is best when taken with a grain of salt.
- Remember that you are always evolving. I used to think that I was given a path, talents, passions and that I had to stay with them or fail. But the truth is, we as humans are constantly mutating. To be happy, you need to be able to shift your focus. Don’t be afraid to fail, because every mistake is a learning experience and a growth opportunity. Don’t forget though, that the same applies to what you’re already good at doing. So for me, I will keep writing. You may need to keep playing video games or taking those science labs – do what you love, what you’re good at, and remember, you are the creator of your future.
I guess what I need to say is, as you embark on this new phase of life, your journey to adulthood, remember that we all stumble, and sometimes we fall. Get right back up. Question everything, but I promise you one thing. Everything makes sense in the end. I wish you luck on your journey – make it worthwhile and live the best life that you can.
“You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”- Steve Jobs
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕