You didn't get the results you wanted [Part Two]
5. Remember how small your world is at age 18. Even if you consider your world is large, it probably isn’t be as big as it will be in a few years’ time. You know so little compared to your 28 year old self.
I know it sounds like an eternity away but it will be here before you know it. Right now, you’re a product of the past 18 years. Your experiences, world view and your travels have revolved around your schooling for the past 13 years.
Everything is going to open up now. Don’t let that freedom be in vain by allowing others to put limits on what you can and can’t do, should and shouldn’t do. Preference number 1 on your list of tertiary courses is not the only option out there.
6. Think about what you need right now. Very few people know what they want to do for the rest of their lives at age 18. If you have the luxury to do so financially, take a year off to explore and figure yourself out. Apart from who your parents, or anyone else, wants you to be.
If you prefer to launch into the next stage of study, even if you’re unsure of what to study, my advice is to go down the path of something you’re good at, even if you’re not necessarily passionate about it. And see it as an interim measure, until you find your passion (which will hopefully be linked to what you’re good at).
If you’re good at Science, find a general Science course. Do that and make sure you’re expanding your horizons on the weekends; reading up, going to industry and non-industry events that interest you and volunteering. Exposing yourself to other worlds will help you find your sweet spot. If you notice an unquenchable curiosity for art, I.T., music, history or theology instead, you can always transfer across.
University might not even be the path for you. You might get into the workforce straight away. Do a short course. Do an apprenticeship. There are options. Your options might be limited but you do have options. If you have a vision for yourself and you’re driven, you’ll get there.
7. Know that you will never and should never be anyone else but who you are. You might love and admire your older sibling, or your parent or a friend who has been through the process. But you are cheating yourself and the world around you, if you deprive them of you, by trying to follow somebody else’s path.
I believe that God made you, so that you can be yourself and light up the world in ways that only you can. To live abundantly and freely and to enjoy yourself on the journey, even amidst the hardships you will face. Figure out what switches that light on. It’s not going to be by imitating others, no matter how wonderful they are.
8. If you have read all of the above and are still shaking your head, thinking, “You don’t get it, you don’t have parents like mine and you’re not in my situation. I have no choice.” Well, in that case, you sound like my 17 year old self. My heart breaks for you.
People could conjure up the most inspirational speeches about our bright futures and I thought none of it applied to me because I had no choice but to do what my parents wanted me to. You have to know that this is simply not true.
Your parents can guilt you all they want. But consider this, is that a kind thing to do? Is that what real love looks like? They might say, “We’re doing this because we love you.” No, they’re not.
They might love you and be really bad at showing it. But they’re not forcing you into a life you don’t want, because they love you. They’re doing it because they love themselves and their reputations more than the person you really are; a person they probably don’t know because you’ve had to hide it all along.
So they probably love a version of you that aligns with their ideals and not the real you. They might get royally pissed if they knew the real you. Unfortunately, this is a reality for some of us.
Now, I’m not saying to shove it to your parents. What I will say (and this is what I would have done differently if I could go back) is to realise that your parents are fallible people. They are a product of the culture and community they grew up in, just as you are.
They are human. And for that, they deserve respect and love just as much as you do. But no human deserves to be Lord over another humans life. And if that’s who they are to you, only you can break that.
You can respectfully and firmly say no. “I love you, but no. I’m going to be taking a different path because I’m not going waste my gifts, talents and passions by not pursuing them.”
And for goodness’ sake, if you have parents whose love is not conditional on your academic performance or on anything at all, realise how amazing that is. Make sure you let them know of your gratitude.
Man, I know all of this is easier said than done. Talk it through with someone wise in your life who you can trust. If you can’t think of anyone, please feel free to get in touch with me. I would love to be a sounding board if you need one and to offer you support. You are NOT alone in this.
Sincerely and with love,