This past weekend Earl and I attended the graduation party of my cousin’s daughter. Naturally the question that was asked the most often was where she was going to go to college and what she planned on studying. She is going to become a pet psychologist. I give her credit for knowing what she wants to do with her life. I wish her luck.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m odd or what but at 40 years old I don’t know that I’ve settled in to what I want to do with the rest of my life. I probably have but then again I’ve changed careers a couple of times: I worked for a computer company. I’ve been a radio DJ. I work in technology again. I’ve worked with the developmentally disabled. I went to school for music education. I went to school for civil engineering. Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do. I like it a lot. And I’m pretty confident that I could do this for the rest of my life. I might need a change of scenery along the way but all in all my gig is pretty good.
I sometimes wonder if we put too much pressure on those entering adulthood by expecting them to know what they want to do for the rest of their life and then expect them to pay bucketloads of money in education, only to find out that it isn’t their cup of tea 10 years later. I know people that have changed careers as many times as I have and they’re very happy with their life. When I was in college there were several in my classes that had no idea what they were getting themselves into as civil engineers, it just sounded good in the college catalog so they signed up for it. They did their best but the lack of enthusiasm was apparent. They were told that they had to go to college and that was that. If they had just been given the chance to “find themselves”, I’m pretty confident that they wouldn’t have chosen the career path they were on.
Now, I’m not knocking my cousin’s daughter’s decision to become a pet psychologist. No, not at all. She knows what she wants to do and I think that’s wonderful! My point is that I don’t think we can expect each and every person to know what they want to do out of school. The New York State education system tends to test the hell out of every student these days and it also places what I feel to be unrealistic expectations on some students. The system sets many up for failure. Not everyone is hard-wired for continuing education. I’ve met many people that could barely write their name legibly and perform simple algebra, but they could assemble, disassemble and reassemble a V8 engine in a different car in less than a day. They did horribly in school and ended up not getting a diploma because of a fear of testing. However, they were given some room, a second chance via a GED and they now own a very successful auto repair shop.
Some people can clearly see the path that lies ahead. Others find twists and turns along the way. I think the most important thing is to recognise individuality and to celebrate that. If society allowed more of this exploration along the way, perhaps we’d have a happier society today.