Don’t have Your Life figured out? So What!

As I browse my social media feeds I notice so many people are fed up and unsure of the direction of their lives. It reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago when my son was stressed about what he would do with his life. Fast forward nothing he even considered was to be his path; life took him in a totally different direction. And it’s more than ok not only for him, but for any of us questioning where we are and what direction we are headed.

LifeI share the original post (with some minor tweeks) here:

The age old question we ask our kids seems to be “What do you want to be when you grow up”?  We ask toddlers, we ask our tweens and we even pressure our high school seniors to “choose” what they want to be for the rest of their lives. We push and push until they pick something, anything, and is it “best” thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we all have to grow up and move forward with some type of plan, but I’m watching my college freshman who is torn between multiple interests and is feeling the pressure to choose. I realize that once he went off to college the pressure really began to build in a whole new way.  And it began with choosing classes.

By the middle of their first year of college, a 19 year old student who is just figuring out how to adjust to living outside of the family, is forced to choose a path with the objective being to “graduate on time” and get a job. They are told that they need to pick a major early on because by doing so they have a better chance at being successful.

Hmmmmm……

No wonder our young adults get overwhelmed.  No wonder they feel “bad” that they don’t know what to do with their lives.  It’s hard enough to keep up with classes, studying, social activities and well just being in college, and on top of it we put this a “ticking time bomb” on their lives suggesting that they had better figure it all out and soon or else….FAILURE is soon to follow.

Yesterday, my son posted this simple statement “how is it that i still have no idea what i want to do with my life?!”  And the minute I read it, everything in me screamed

YOU ARE 18, HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW?

It was then I realized with a sinking feeling in my gut that somehow, somewhere the line got blurred.

Thankfully his aunt chimed in with “Honey, if you are lucky you’ll know before you are 40. Most of us who thought we knew at 18 were wrong anyhow”. And it dawned on me that something in the way we condition our young isn’t really in their best interests.  It’s more about the “shoulds” and a time line rather than about the individual and there needs.

It’s sad that it’s become about  (or maybe it’s always been and I just didn’t recognize that I had fallen into the same trap with my kids) what we as a society think is the “right” way to go through life? And while I thought that we had diffused that belief, the reality is that we didn’t.

The age-old formula  Go to school, do your best, go to college, do better, graduate, get a “real” job and perform your best, AND  if you do all these things, in the right order you will find the promised land!  The truth is that not many of us can say that when we followed the “right path” , or the path we “picked” that our lives turned out exactly how we dreamed they would be at 18.

The reality is actually somewhere in that mystical grey area.  Because when we put so much emphasis on that formula we lose our individuality, the thing that makes the world exciting.

What I “see” out there in the real world is that happiness is built on so much more that following what society deems as the formula for a successful life.  It has more to do with things like a solid work ethic, an inquisitive and educated mind that continues to grow, an ability to pick yourself back up when the going gets touch,  and the capacity to be compassionate and laugh at life that really gets you the pot of gold filled with happiness and prosperity.  It isn’t the choice you made at 18 or even at 40. It’s about how you handle the choices that you do make.

Life happens, and if we learn the lessons presented to us and develop the skills that will help us to adapt to a variety of situations we will find the “feeling” that we are looking for that tells us “Yes, this is what I want to be when I grow up”!  Am I saying that college isn’t the answer, no….in fact  I believe that for many going to college is a great place to learn valuable life lessons that far surpass anything that the professor teaches.  And I’m not saying that college is the only path either.  What I’m saying is that as a society I don’t understand why “choosing” at such a young age the norm?  Why the pressure to grow up so fast?  And why do we all feel as though there is something wrong with us if we don’t know all the answers to life immediately upon becoming an adult? My point:

Not knowing what you want to be at 18  is a good thing.

It means that you are open to possibilities and you want to embrace all that the world has to offer.  So if I could offer a piece of advice to anyone questioning what they want to be when they grow up….

Stop worrying about it, work hard at what you are doing, continue to take action on the things that feel right, and the rest will come to you all in good time.  And in the mean time, be silly, giggle lots and continue to skip, because as my grandma used to say…it’s important to stop and smell the roses, and that’s what it’s all about anyway right?

 

~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

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