We’re at a time of year that for many means the end of the school year, and for some, the end of high school. Many bright young faces are getting ready to go to college or get a job or any other of a plethora of paths in life.
I’m at a unique age where I’ve lived life in the adult world, but I’m not old enough to be seen as an old fuddy-duddy … at least, I hope I’m not there yet. So as someone from the class of 2016, I wanted to bestow some advice and hope I don’t get teenage eye rolls in response.
Number one, the right path in life doesn’t look the same to everyone.
I mean this in two ways: first, I mean this as far as your own path. When I graduated, everyone was saying you have to go to college and get your degree. Some of us did, and some of us did not, but we’re all finding what makes us happy. Paths in life are not one-size-fits-all. Just because everyone is telling you to do something, doesn’t mean that is what is right for you.
The other side of “The right path in life doesn’t look the same to everyone” is that people are not wrong for doing something differently than you. A college degree doesn’t give you the right to snub your high school classmates who decided college wasn’t right for them. Everyone is on their own path, and everyone is deserving of respect.
Next, be flexible to wherever life takes you.
You may go in with your plan to get this degree and go into this job and this is exactly how your life will be … Until it’s not. When I was graduating high school, I thought I’d be a teacher right now, and, well, I’m not, but I do not regret straying from that path.
Same from one of my classmates who went into college to get a specific degree, but after graduating was unable to get a job in that field. They are currently back in college to get a different degree, but they love what they are doing now.
Another one of my classmates went to college, then life got in the way and had to drop out. They are now working a job that doesn’t require a college degree and they are happier than they ever imagined they would be.
Things will change, and while sometimes you need to persevere, other times you need to consider if your path needs to change. There’s no shame in changing plans.
Finally, no one knows you better than you.
This goes for any aspect of your life. This can be in ways like I’ve mentioned previously, like you taking a different path than your peers or going in a different direction than you previously told people you would. You know your situation and your path better than anyone else.
This can also go for how you choose to present yourself. Have you ever heard, “It’s just a phase,” usually in response to a fashion choice or something to do with your identity? First of all, no one gets to tell you that something isn’t the real you but you. If you say that is who you are, then that is who you are.
And even if it does turn out to be a phase, so what? Phases are great. Phases allow us to figure out who we are. Phases are so natural, even the moon goes through phases, and no one judges the moon for appearing as a crescent and keeping the rest in darkness.
So there you go, my tips for navigating the adult world: find your path, allow it to bend, respect that everyone is on their own path and be true to who you know you are. I’ll admit, I’m still learning and many people still see me as a kid. However, if I was able to bestow even a little bit of wisdom or comfort, I’ll consider this column a success.
Congratulations Class of 2023!
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