Lead your own life

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“What are you going to be when you grow up?” he said.

“I don’t really know yet,” I replied. “But I think being a teacher would be pretty cool.”

A frown darkened my friend’s face, as he proceeded to chastise me: “A teacher? That’s a terrible idea. You should do something more fun with your life, or at least make a decent living. You can’t drive a Lamborghini on a teacher’s salary.”

The minute bell bleeped, and my friend proceeded on to his class, still shaking his head. Being a teacher wasn’t exactly a long- held dream of mine, but his violent reaction to my suggestion of pursuing such a career was discouraging at best.

It was then that I reminded myself of something: that I, and not my friend, will be the one forced to live with the decision of what I do with my life.

I have heard spoken to myself and others similar words of discouragement, attempting to dissuade young people from following or even looking further into various career paths.

Most of these discouragements have good intentions; many of the givers of such advice, especially adults, are trying to look out for the recipients. These adults are trying to give the young person in question more clarity and definition as to what careers would be a better fit for the person.

That being said, when the more authoritative sort of discouragements are made, they cross a fine line between giving advice and giving a command. When a young person is told to shy away from a profession at all costs, or, conversely, to adhere to a single strict career path, they are not presented with data and asked to draw their own conclusions, but rather have the decision that they should be allowed to reach by themselves made for them.

This means that young men and women could be denied their life’s calling, before even getting a real chance to truly discover a career’s potential benefits. The worst part of all of this is that, much of the time, the “advice” given is not truly considering the recipient’s personal interests and desires, but projecting the giver’s prejudices and desires upon the recipient.

While it is true that many people agree on some aspects of what constitutes an enjoyable or worthwhile profession, each person is the one who understands their desires and strengths the best. Thus, each young man and woman should be their own best advocate: to, when confronted with a discouraging friend or family member, stand up for themselves, and strive to seek what serves themselves best.

 

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