I have been doing a lot of soul-searching this week, and I can’t help but thinking that I am doing things now that I should have been doing thirty years ago. I should have worked harder on ME in my 20’s. Yes, that’s a photo of me taken at work with the “mullet” type hairstyle, wearing the homemade dress that my Mother sewed for me (around age 24).
Who really knows who they are, or what they want to be in their 20’s? I think it’s the lucky person who knows what path they want to follow right out of High School. This topic of discussion has come up often in our house with two maturing young men living here.
When son #1 neared the end of his High School career, he didn’t want to discuss his future. He was scared. He didn’t know what it was he wanted to do with his life. Teachers, counselors and parents all kept asking the same question – what do you want to be? He didn’t know so he refused to talk about it. He told us talking about his future depressed him. He chose to attend a community college and majored in Auto Mechanics and today he’s an entry level auto technician at a local car dealership. He’s still not certain if that’s what he wants to do with his life.
Now that son #2 has reached that same place in his life, he also doesn’t know what he wants to do. He’s in a work-study type program offered through the school district that is basically an extension of the school year but also offers a part-time job of sorts that will help teach skills and maybe offer some job opportunities down the line. We ask him the same sort of questions – what do you want to do? If this isn’t it, how can we change it? Do you want to go apply at local places for a job? We keep hearing, “I don’t know.” Of course, he doesn’t know. At his age, he has no clue what’s out there.
It’s hard when you are young to know what to do with your career or with your life. Heck, it’s hard to know at MY age! I spent my 20’s working as a clerk typist and secretary. I was too scared to go to college. I hated the cliques in High School, and I was afraid going to a local community college would put me in close proximity to the same jerks from High School. I was too scared, too insecure and too shy to leave home at that age. Friends from High School who I thought had it more together than I did went away to school, and some came back home again because they were homesick. Others started degree programs and changed their minds and didn’t finish them. I used my parents’ finances as an excuse not to go to college. I could type so I went to work instead.
I was shy, nervous and insecure. I should have worked harder on putting myself out there. Life experiences over the past 30 years have finally helped me reach the point where I am not as fearful as I once was. I wish I had been the person I am today 30 years ago.
I was inactive (a book-reading, couch potato). I preferred to spend my days working, reading, watching television and driving around in my car. I wish I had made physical activity and healthy eating a bigger priority. I wonder what I could have done physically if I had been fit. I wish I had had the mindset then that I do now.
I gave up on school and went to work as someone’s assistant. I was certainly smart enough to have continued on and been something more than a secretary. Yes, it’s kept food on the table over the years, and it’s paid the bills. It’s been a steady, stable field of work. I wish, though, that I had tried for something more.
Since I cannot change the decisions I made and what happened 30 years ago, all I can do now is work hard on being the very best that I can be today. I strive for excellence in my job. I work hard at losing weight and regaining some of the physical strength and agility that I wasted all those years ago. I struggle every day to overcome my natural reserve and remember to look people in the eye and smile. I continue to work on my mind and be the best student that I can be – so much so that I have decided to pursue my Bachelor’s degree after I finish my Associate’s. It’s never too late to work on ME. I wish the same for my sons – that they reach the point in their lives where they are happy with who they are and with the decisions that they are making. I just hope it doesn’t take them 30 years to figure it out.
Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net