Last weekend I went to my sister’s high school graduation. I would be lying if I told you it was a fun filled event. I don’t think anyone, even the graduates themselves would say it was enjoyable. The ceremony took place in a crowded gym, with screaming kids, and student/teachers giving mediocre speeches about how to best navigate through life now that high school has ended. Cue the “we are the future – this is not an end but a beginning – we did it!” speeches.
Even with all the cliches, is it bad that I found the students to be more inspiring than the teacher? The teacher made a speech about starting over, making the choice right now about the person you want to be as you move forward. She asked them all to decide how they wanted to portray themselves for future encounters. They better figure out the legacy they wanted to have on the world…. Talk about putting unneeded stress and pressure onto 18 year old kids.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t inspire our youth, get them to think about their future plans. But I think it’s completely asinine that we expect 18 year old graduates to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I mean the long standing joke between my parents is that they still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.
I was a mess at 18, even more so at 22 when I graduated college, and I am still mess at 25. I’ve embraced it. I wish I could tell every single high school graduate to go easy on themselves. Shoot, I wish I could tell every single person struggling to find their career the same thing. Those young people who find their calling in life are the lucky ones. But this is not to say that those of us who work for a paycheck are unlucky. This doesn’t mean we haven’t left a legacy, or made the world better. This doesn’t mean we lack passion, ambition, or creativity. It just means we haven’t found the fire yet.
I just finished rereading This Is How by Augusten Burroughs. It is a phenomenoal book, I highly recommend it. There is a chapter when he talks about chasing dreams, and he talks about Grandma Moses. Grandma Moses didn’t start her painting career until she was in her late 70s, eventually having her art exhibitions break attendance records.
Success can come at any age, and is defined however you want. Your career can happen at any time, and can change at any time. For so long I felt lost and vulnerable because I didn’t have a career. I’m still lost, I’m still working for a paycheck, and I still feel a mess. But that’s okay, life is more fun when you’re not put together. Plus most of the things in life that I am good at are outside of the work world. I mean, I am pretty good at throwing back shots without a chaser. I am also great at bitching about the weather, overdressing for a situation, and making jello shots. If only my high school guidance counselor could see me now.
And this would be the part where I could post inspirational quotes about learning to dance in the storm, taking the road least traveled, or following your dreams. However that is not the kind of blog I write, soooooo instead you get a picture of me drinking at a baseball game, which is something I’m also pretty good at. And also something I happen to be doing this Saturday afternoon.