“What are you going to do? Open up a book store and read poetry?” This was my father’s quote as I told him I was going to major in English in college. The thought made no sense to him-of course I thought he knew nothing about my free spirit, how I would change the world. I assumed he was just trying to smother my creativity, squash my spirit, kill my soul. I should have listened. I majored in English and then on another smart move went on to get my M.A in Literature. Twenty years later I find myself at an impasse- not knowing what to do with my life and what should my next career choice be. I have been an adjunct instructor for 14 years, different schools, different classes and the educational world is changing. I see my students who have changed vastly over the years. Here is what I would tell them:
1. Pick a major where you can find a job. I know it seems like common sense but as people we get caught up in emotion. Think about what your skills are and invest in them. If you don’t like people, don’t become a teacher because you have summers off. If you can’t add by all means don’t choose accounting. Think before you choose.
2. You are not entitled. This is the biggest change I see in my students. They think they are entitled to get a good job, to get a large pay check, and to have a good life. It doesn’t work that way. You have to earn it. I know it sounds shocking that it isn’t served to you on a platter but you have to work hard for a good life. Your parents, teachers, friends, etc are not here to make you feel better about yourself constantly. If you are being criticized- listen. More than likely there is truth to what they are saying. We, as society, have become enablers to our kids. Tell them the truth- they will thank you later for it.
3. Critics, bullies, and bosses- There will always be someone who criticizes you. It might not be in the nicest way- learn to deal with it. Critics help us become better people. Bullies- they have become the new hot topic. No one should be bullied but realize it does happen. Take a look at yourself and think about how you treat people. Often times the victims of these childish tormentors go on to do great things with their lives. Focus on yourself, not them. Get a life. Finally, bosses. Respect them and be loyal to where you work. Loyalty is dead in this country. Everyone thinks the grass is always greener. Don’t Facebook at work and let the world know you business. If you are going to Facebook- please don’t put stupid stuff on there(i.e. bong shots with friends, naked photos, pictures of co-workers, or where you work). Trust me- it will haunt you.
4. The most important piece of advice- get out of yourself. Travel. Leave where you live and explore different cultures, places, foods, etc. Don’t get stuck believing that one way of life is better than another. Don’t be xenophobic. Exploring the world helps you develop a better sense of self. You will feel like a work in progress the more you travel. Travel challenges your beliefs, your moral code, your thought process. It helps you develop as a person. Do it- don’t make excuses.
5. Educate yourself. College is not for everyone. It is not necessarily the golden ticket to life. Willy Wonka will not appear and offer you his factory for going to college; however, education is important. If you feel college is not right for you- talk to your parents with logical thoughts. Tell them why and have a plan. Trade schools seem to be dead but they have a great value. We live in a world where we must have machinists, plumbers, morticians, and all of the other jobs that we don’t talk about. There is no shame in hard labor and having dirty hands. If you are going to college- go to class. Think about the money you will have to pay back or your parents will have to pay back. Take your loan amount and divide it by classes and weeks. When you miss- open the window and just throw the money out. Classes you hate- suck it up. It’s called life. Do you really think at a job you can just not go because you don’t like it? Life is not about you having constant happiness and enjoyment. Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like- like working.