Thank you to everyone who shared in the Random Acts of Kindness Day. This year my family participated which made it extra special. Realizing how easy it is to make someone’s day through even just my words has helped me understand the significant difference kindness can make. Try it. Give someone a detailed compliment and watch their face. Your spirit will lift with theirs.

Purpose

A favorite question most adults ask high school graduates is, “What are you going to major in at college?” Or if the young person is not attending college, “What are you going to do?”

Now that it’s been several years since my daughter graduated high school and I’m attending college graduations I’m realizing the same question resurfaces. “What are your plans?”

The amount of stress adults create in young people with these questions is apparent. Graduation and the change it brings is scary. We make it worse by asking young adults to map out their lives. The reality is some adults don’t have a plan for their own lives or some are in a career they despise.

Our purpose changes throughout the years. Even if we prepare and enter a specific career like teaching, medicine, or law we can realize that it may not be as fulfilling as we thought it would be. Perhaps we even chose the career for the wrong reasons, like money or social status, and the actual job was something we didn’t enjoy. For me, teaching was fulfilling until I suddenly had to worry about individual test scores. When teaching became more about FCAT and less about inspiring students to become lifelong learners, my heart saw the damage it was causing to students and to myself. I had to find another path.

The questions we should be asking young people and ourselves are: What brings you happiness? What do you enjoy doing? How do you help others? These questions can lead to the greatest question. What is your purpose? In other words. Who are you and why are you here?

I think that some of our young people have received the message that status is more important than purpose. Our inquiries about their career is our way of ranking them, placing them in our social hierarchy. If they say they’re going to be a doctor or lawyer we’re impressed. If they say they’re going to study a career in the arts we’re concerned. There’s no certainty in the arts. Finding a job could be difficult and the pay most likely minimal, especially when compared to the salary of a doctor. I think most of us understand that a high salary and status do not equal happiness. Finding a career that brings fulfillment and purpose is what equals happiness. I once had a teacher tell me he’d never be rich, but he loved making a difference in kids lives so what could be more important than that. He was absolutely right. That’s what we should be teaching young adults. It’s not about impressing people with a title or a salary. It’s about finding your passion and using it to make a difference in the world. I’d also add that it’s possible to have more than one passion. This teacher also happened to be a great coach.

Both of my children have no idea what they want to be when they grow up. Next year one will graduate college and the other high school. I tell them it’s okay not to know. They must continue to take the classes that interest them, continue doing the things they love like writing songs and training for the Paralympics and trusting that they will find the career that brings them happiness and fulfillment. My daughter is finding career paths she never knew existed back when she was high school simply because she has enrolled in classes that interest her.  When we live life, fulfilling our purpose which can be anything from being a parent, social work, teaching, baking, rescuing animals, helping to heal others or practicing law, there is a sense of peace that pervades. It doesn’t mean every day is easy, but it does bring an understanding that we are making a difference in the world and that we matter. Find someone without purpose and it will be easy to spot their unhappiness. Find someone living their purpose and making a difference in others lives and you will understand joy from watching a life well lived.


Comments to "What’s Your Major? What’s Your Plan?"

  1. Doreen

    May 26, 2015

    Once again so true, especially during this time of year. As a parent we can only hope that the path our children choose is one that they will find fulfilling. !!

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