Let's (not) Get This All Figured Out

Oftentimes the advice we start hearing at a young age is along the lines of "figure out what you're going to do with your life". Historically, this well-intentioned sentiment has been passed from one generation to the next, but it does not take into consideration that a full two-thirds of the students currently in K-8 will have careers that are not even invented yet as of 2021. Technology has never been as rapidly changing as it is in this current moment, and it's not showing any signs of slowing down. More than ever, we need to adapt and evolve with the times in what skill sets we are emphasizing. Once we figure out that the goal should not be to have it all figured out, we are well-positioned for open mindedness and continuous growth that keeps pace with change.

Generally speaking, June is considered a pretty fantastic time of the year, especially if you happen to live in a part of the country that has clearly differentiated seasons as we do here in the Lehigh Valley (most of the time). June tends to be that always fast-moving bit of time when the last of the cooler weather has come to its annual end, and an entire summer still lies before us. A blank canvas waiting for each of us to create the memories of outdoor time with family, friends, and neighbors enjoying adventures (no travel required). Like an appreciating asset, these times and memories will become more valuable as we get older.

As much as June and summer vacation from school go hand in hand, so does that annual rite of long-anticipated passage: graduation. With these freshly minted graduates in mind, I write this column, specifically the high-school and college grads. If you, dear reader, are not one of these graduates I speak of, then perhaps after reading, you will feel compelled to forward this along to a friend or family member proudly representing the Class of ’21. (Or do it the vintage way: print it out and mail it!)

I have nothing but the most fantastic recollections of my high-school years, especially the accompanying summer vacations. All of them spent in Western Massachusetts, where I was born and raised. I also clearly remember that the common theme of conversations with adults towards the end of high school often including some version of: “Have you figured out what you want to do in the future?”

Standard variations included:

You need to figure out what you want to do in life.

Let’s figure out your future plan.