I received an email from a young man looking for advice. He recently graduated from the “comfort blanket of college and chucked towards the open jaws of real life.” He was hoping to receive some advice for young people in his situation to make the world outside not seem so threatening and overwhelming.
The first step is to understand that although the world can be very overwhelming and threatening, it is also amazing and magical and overflowing with opportunity.
The problem is that when confronted with uncertainty and overwhelm, most people hide under the false security of the status quo. We believe that if we get in line, do what we’re told, and play by the rules, everything will be ok. But that life only seems safe. Trusting the outcome of your story to someone else?
Now that’s risky.
My advice to young adults is to start chasing that dream now and stay the course. It will be hard, yes, but it only gets harder later. You have the advantage of naïveté and passion and low overhead and very little to lose. Kim and I went years living on her kindergarten teaching salary, eating Hamburger Helper and not running the air conditioner in our dumpy apartment. It was never fun or easy, but it was easier than trying to do it with three kids and a mortgage.
Don’t wait to get established.
Don’t wait until you have figured everything out.
Don’t wait for the timing to be right.
And for heavens sake, don’t give up.
Perhaps more important is the message I have for anyone reading this who over the age of twenty-five. As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today. Yes, there are certain advantages when you start young, as I outlined above. But it’s worth keeping in mind that although I didn’t have the pressure of three kids and a mortgage to contend with back then, I also didn’t have the wisdom and experience that I now have, which I’m sure also would have helped shorten my learning curve.
Don’t surrender the rest of your life wishing you would have started sooner or lamenting the choices you’ve made this far.
Make new ones.
You may not yet have everything you need to finish the race, but you have everything you need to start.