Can You Tell the Future?

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It’s coming up on graduation season.  Hundreds of thousands of kids are moving on from high school.  And what’s the most common question they get?  Some variation on “What are you going to do with your life?”

On the one hand, this is very logical.  There are a few different paths kids can take after high school- the work force, college, and the military are the most common, and there are many different options under each of those directions. Especially if you aren’t close to the kid this is the standard question to ask when you get to the party.

But on the other hand, these are kids.  18 year olds.  They aren’t even old enough to buy alcohol or cigarettes yet!  Yet they are supposed to be mature enough to know what they want to do 5 days a week (or more) for the next 50 years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I never really figured this out for myself.  I like what I do now and I like more of the people I work with, but at no point did I have a formal plan to get to where I am now.  That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard- I absolutely do.   But when I graduated from high school I wanted to be a pediatrician.

If someone at a graduation party tells you they want to be an astronaut, tell them that’s great.  If they tell you they want to be a plumber, that’s great.  An accountant, lawyer, whatever- that’s great.  But what might be even better is the kid who isn’t sure.  The one who’s going to take some general classes, or maybe even a gap year.  We should be encouraging those kids just as much as the ones who think they have it all figured out.  None of us can predict the future, least of all an 18 year old kid.

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