It’s May and that always makes me think of graduations and new beginnings! Particularly this year, as my nephew and one of my favorite people in the world, is graduating from college. YAY Dane!! It seems like yesterday that he was just a baby. Every time I see him I am always struck by his confidence, his comfort in his own skin and his authenticity (not to mention his amazing musical talent.) The fact that he has come to this place at such a young age always amazes me, as it has been my life’s work to get to that place. So it is not surprising that in talking to him about what’s next after graduation, he seems very calm and comfortable in his next steps, even though he is still finding his way to what he wants to do in life. He seems to just flow with it and not get to far ahead in the planning. Just letting things come together in their own time.
It’s a sharp contrast to where I was when I graduated from high school. You see I was not bound for college. Why you ask? Well, you see, my Mom was not a fan of college. I know that sounds strange these days, but my Mom did not graduate from High School and found all her joy and accomplishment in life in being a mother and a wife. She wanted the same for me. It also didn’t help that she had heard from women that she knew and trusted that "good girls become bad girls when they go off to college." So needless to say, she was not a fan. I was her oldest daughter and had been raised to be a very good girl and an example to my sisters. She was not keen on the idea of risking that, and she truly didn't see the importance of it.
Oddly enough, looking back on it, I guess I agreed with her. In my Senior Memory book I wrote that my career goal was to be a wife and a mother. There was not much emphasis on college and my boyfriend was not going to college, so I didn't want to be away from him. I decided I could go to school part time at the community college. Looking back on it now, it seems like I was just afraid. I was sticking with what I knew and was comfortable with.
Hence, getting a job was in order. My Dad made it clear to all of us growing up that he would support us until we were 18 and then he joked (maybe, not so jokingly) that he would "break our plates" and we would be on our own. I took him seriously (I took everything so seriously), so I knew that I had to start supporting myself.
My aunt got me a job with her company doing clerical work and we all decided that I would start working on the Monday after I graduated from high school on Friday. What the hell was I thinking? My career began at 18 and with the exception of the year off that I took when I had my son and the 3 months between leaving my job in Colorado to start my job in Chicago, I worked non-stop for 37 years. I wish someone would have knocked some sense into me and encouraged me to take a break, be young, have some fun and play a little!
But at that point in my life, (and honestly, for a good portion of my life) I thought everything was so serious and I felt I had to be responsible and live up to everyone’s expectations of me. Taking time off for fun, are you kidding?
It has taken me 50 years to figure out that life is meant to be enjoyed and that we can relax because we have all the time we need. What a difference it has made in my life and how beautiful it is to see my amazing nephew has this figured out in his twenties! It inspires me!
How about you? What have you learned that you wish you knew when you were young? What advice would you give to your younger self? Leave a comment below and share your pearls of wisdom and how they are impacting how you live your life today.