It’s life Jim – but not as we know it.

When you’re growing up, there are many things you think about doing for a career. Most of them of course are too far-fetched. Like being an astronaut – turns out not everyone can do that, go figure. It’s not like on Star Trek anyways, and there isn’t even a space shuttle anymore. I was interested in architecture,  forestry, and I believe at one point even becoming a ships captain. None of those panned out. At this point I can’t even remember why I chose computer science… because it wasn’t physics? I had zero interest in chemistry, physics or even biology it turns out. Lesson learned No.1 – don’t do stuff you have no interest in. I kinda thought programming was okay – I mean it allowed you to solve problems. I didn’t go in for the more theoretical stuff – and still don’t.

Truth be told, it’s hard to make a career choice at age 17. It’s even harder to spend 4-5 years doing something you don’t enjoy. Lesson No.2 – don’t do a degree/diploma/whatever that someone else wants you to do. You won’t be happy. You have to be happy doing whatever you’re doing. If that first summer job has you helping to build houses and you end up loving it – there is a message there. Plenty of people have been successful without getting a university degree.  Lesson No.3 – don’t think people will think less of you if you don’t get a degree. Pieces of paper are over-rated. Some people think the more pieces of paper you have hanging on a wall, the smarter you are. I doubt that very much. Lesson No.4 – if you do not know what you want from life, take a year off, get a job, experience life, volunteer. You might be better for it. Want to become a barista? Why not? There are skill sets beyond academia that are well worth pursuing.

Sure, not everything that is fun, is fun to do for a living. Cooking is fun, but working 12 hours a day, six days a week in a restaurant may *not* be that much fun. Running a small restaurant somewhere in PEI for six months a year where you can hit the surf between lunch and dinner may be more your thing… its all about perspective, and quality of life. Look, its nice to have a job that pays big $$, but that usually means you’re working even when you’re not suppose to. It’s somewhat overrated frankly. Yes, people use to work long hours in factories – the difference being when they went home they didn’t take work with them. We can’t seem to escape it. Want to raise organic rare pig breeds in the wilds of Nova Scotia? Why not? It may be more rewarding than working for some huge company.

We should probably as a society stop pushing young people like lemmings into universities, and allow them to explore life – have them take a year off after high-school to do some form of volunteer work, or just experience working in a bunch of jobs. Experience life, without the pressures society puts upon them. It will allow them to make more informed decisions about their lives. After that, some may not choose to go to university, and you know what – that’s okay. Those that do will have their experiences to draw upon when they do go. Everyone might be happier.

Food for thought eh?

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