The COVID-19 pandemic has left young people confused about their futures. Schools have been partially or fully closed with limited options and opportunities. Businesses have been challenged in hiring or even staying open.
The psychological impact has also been devastating: Depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic. That derails many trying to make their way through the confusion. Even during the best of times it can be confusing to choose a path in life that will make sense for the future.
I received an email from a listener, Amy, which I thought had sentiments that would bring some peace to those who feel an unnecessary urgency to “pick their life path.”
“I was a music student when I originally went to college, with piano as my major. My teacher was brilliant and eccentric. Upon hearing that my ambition was to be a concert pianist she said, ‘You’re not good enough.’
“I was shocked at her bluntness and it probably showed in my face, so she explained further about how my shortcomings would not only hinder me, but eliminate me from this particular vocation. It was a real eye-opener because I thought all I had to do to get to Carnegie Hall was to practice!
“She didn’t just stomp on my dreams and leave it at that, however. She also pointed out my areas of strength.
“As it turned out, while I love classical music, I also love rock ’n’ roll. I wound up making a decent income playing keyboards in a few local bands for about 15 years. I have also had a few piano students of my own, and discovered I teach very much the way she did.
“Eventually I started a new career, but I learned a simple, important lesson at that time: Your dreams might be a bit out of reach, so play to your strengths and you will find your niche.”
I was speaking to a young man recently who will be starting medical school this year. I asked him what he thought his specialty might be. He told me he went through a number of “plans” before he decided to experience medical school and internship/residency, and he would most likely gravitate toward what he was meant to do.
That showed me he had patience and a sense of inner security to allow himself to discover not only his strengths but to what he could make a pure and strong commitment. People of all ages make choices based on almost anything except their strengths and comfort: competition, pleasing mommy/daddy, prospective income, delusions of grandeur, and some notion of what they should be doing with their lives.
None of that brings happiness, nor does it suggest that the individual will do their best — as the choice does not really come from deep inside.
Passion is another one of my concerns for people choosing a path in life. Passion keeps us emotionally healthy and motivated — a passion for the process, a passion for the purpose, and a passion for the results, for which a person can feel proud.
You are ultimately the architect of your own life. Make sure you embrace that which makes you feel meaningful. Without that sense of meaning, people do veer into depression and self-defeating behaviors like drugs and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual acting out.
I love to get calls from middle-aged and older adults who want to know if it is too late at their age to follow their passion — that which they gave up for many of the reasons outlined above, as well as issues of practicality.
I ask: “Are you dead? Am I talking to you from the great beyond? “‘No,’ they say, with a slight giggle.” Then, I respond: “Do it!”
Dr. Laura (Laura Schlessinger) is a well-known radio personality and best-selling author. She appears regularly on many television shows and in many publications. Read Dr. Laura’s Reports — More Here.