Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fearing the Known

Something that's come up a lot lately in conversations about kids and young adults is the fear they have of deciding the rest of their lives so early in life. I've also heard them call into the Suze Orman show, asking if they can afford a round the world trip to survive their Quarterlife Crisis.

According to what they're told, if they do well in school, get in a good college and maybe graduate school, they will then be set with a great job for the rest of their lives. This, quite naturally, scares them to death. If they do everything right, they will have 30+ years of doing the same thing every day for the rest of their lives. If you were 18, how exciting would that look?

When I look at my own friends and family, however, the reality is very different. There are very few people that have had less than 3 jobs. Some have changed careers more than 3 times (myself included). Just when you think you have life figured out, everything changes.

In my generation, we went from "what's the internet" to "what's your twitter handle?" Pensions disappeared, and work-at-home moms has become a phenomenon that barely existed outside of Avon reps when I was a kid.

The only thing we can truly depend upon is that everything will change.

I could never wrap my head around looking 5, 10 years into the future, and I thought it was just a personal problem. Instead, I turned out to be ahead of the game because I didn't have any preconceived notions of what my future would be. If I ask most people I know if they are where they thought they would be at this stage of their lives, most would answer a resounding, "hell no!"

Yet, almost none of them would say they wished things were different. It's the unexpected that teaches us what we really value in life. It sometimes takes the sky falling to turn us to a life filled with more love and happiness than we thought possible. It sometimes takes an actual crisis to save us.

Now, of course, I'm a  mother who hopes nothing bad ever happens to either of my girls. I wish them a life that they love and appreciate without having to experience any more loss or heartache. But I know all I can really do for them is just be there. To support them, to love them unconditionally, to help them find their way when their lives fall apart.

I wish there was some way students could learn this lesson without suffering, even if only a Quarterlife Crisis.

This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.


Penelope said...

I love this post for so many reasons. The line about the unexpected showing you what you really value rings true for me. Great writing!

BigLittleWolf said...

Fascinating post, April - quarterlife crisis indeed. Given the past year with my senior in high school, what lies ahead for him in college, and some of the points you raise - all I can hope is that the diversity of his interests will remain and broaden.

Whatever the world looks like now (certainly different than when I was raised) - it's sure to look different in 15 or 20 years again.

So much to think about here.