Kids are pretty smart. A lot of people look at this new generation and shiver, but more and more I find myself admiring their way of learning and enjoying life. My sister for example is 22, and a lot of people shake their heads in wonder at her thinking process. She doesn’t want to go to college – period. I’ve had the opportunity to watch her grow, learn and educate herself over these past 4 years, and if you ask me, her logic makes perfect sense.
I think the problem with formal education is that it strives to produce what society needs. Society needs doctors, lawyers, politicians, teachers, nurses, soldiers, computer geeks, veterinarians, so formal education tries to steer people towards the advancement of our society. That’s a no-brainer and for the most part, it works. But what if you don’t exactly fit into what society ‘needs’, what then?
I think it’s very refreshing to see this particular brand of youth ‘finding themselves’ so early in life. My sister realized rather quickly that she didn’t ‘fit in” formal education. She tried, bless her heart, she tried, but there was nothing there she really wanted to do. She didn’t want to learn life, she wanted to experience it. So she moved out of her parent’s home, got her own apartment and got a job. We all shook our heads in grief and said “welcome to the real world baby girl”. But you know what? When you throw a fish out there in any kind of water, they only have two options, swim or die. Lesson number one in finding yourself.
Way to go girlfriend! I’m not saying it was easy for her. She struggled from one job to another, barely making ends meet. She learned about apartment leases, pet deposits and what happens when you don’t pay your electric bill on time. She got tired of fast food and learned to cook. She realized that late nights equal very long tomorrows, and above all – she learned that the dollar bill actually does have value. I know people well over the age of 40, still trying to learn these things.
The next thing she learned in life was that her parents were right; you really do need an education. I think this is where a lot of kids today get lost. They take a ride on this never-ending merry-go-round between who they are and who society says they need to be. College is the only place where you receive an education. This is such a false statement. Some fish simply won’t thrive in this environment and when they sputter for air and die – should you blame the fish or the water?
So my sister steered herself towards her heart’s desire, animals. She wasted very little time striving or pursuing occupations that didn’t meet the requirements of her heart. Even though that sometimes meant living without insurance, and the other benefits that define self-sufficiency, she shut her ears to the standards of society and did it her way. Standing up for who you are in this world can be a very hard thing to do, nobody will ever fully understand the way you do things and that’s okay. Lesson number two in finding yourself.
She is not finished with her education by any means. Lesson number three in finding yourself is giving up on the idea of perfection. This is not a perfect world and there is no such thing as a perfect person, so quit trying to be one. No matter how much you know, there is always more to learn. If you can open your mind and allow yourself to bloom where you’re planted you will eventually thrive, because the longer you follow your heart’s desire the faster you will learn. Desire is there for a reason, use it and be the best that you can be.
I know my sister’s not there yet, and sometimes I’m not even sure there is a ‘there’ to get. She may never go to college or she may find her way back some day, most of us do, but she will go wiser and more able to understand where she fits in. If you reflect on what she’s learned, as I have, you finally start getting it – no matter how old you are. I think this young and unique generation has plenty to teach us old-fogies, if we could just learn to listen.