Go Get It.
Just yesterday I had two little ones in diapers, Barney and Baby Bop stuffed animals needed, The Lion King CD blasting, a car with Goldfish and Cheerio in every crevice, the cutest drawings ever hanging on my fridge, the smell of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo lingering in my nose… And now I find myself waking up to two teenagers. Two amazing, wonderful, silly teenagers, who grabbed a hold of my heart the moment they entered this world. This year my son will graduate from high school, with my daughter following next year. How did time go by so quickly?
And there’s only one piece of advice I can give them: GO GET IT.
When I taught high school, there was nothing more frustrating than seeing educators only pushing students toward one goal. We all know what that goal is: college. But you know what? College isn’t for everyone. And yes, I’m a doctor. I’m educated. I’ve known how to play school well my entire life. And luckily, for me, learning is my passion. Teaching is something I love. But it’s not for everyone.
Go get it. Find what you love and it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s what I’d choose for you. All that matters is you.
The moment someone hears my son is graduating, the first words out of their mouth are “What college is he attending?” And yes, while my son does want to further his education, my concern isn’t about attaining a degree that he may or may not use. My concern is my son’s happiness. I want him to love going to work every day the way I do. And a college degree doesn’t guarantee his happiness.
My daughter on-the-other-hand, knows exactly what she wants to do. In the past, she’s been hesitant because her career choice can be dangerous. It can put her in harm’s way. And that frightens all of us who love her. Yet my concern is my daughter’s happiness. I want her to love what she does. And getting a degree in criminal justice to put her on the path of being a detective guarantees her happiness—just looking at her face light up when she talks about it tells me that.
What my son loves isn’t necessarily popular. It doesn’t cause the “oohhs and ahhhs” the way some passions do. Like becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a rocket scientist. My son can’t tell you the ins and outs of the Periodic Table. He could give a rat’s ass, truth be told. But what he can tell you is how to rebuild an engine. How to raise or lower your suspension. How to turbofy your car—is turbofy even a word? He knows cars the way I know education. And I couldn’t be prouder.
My daughter is the opposite of me. She is fearless. She’s not afraid to talk about corpses, crime scenes, and longs to be the one who figures out “who dunnit”. She knows what college gets to work with DPD’s state of the art crime lab and has decided that where she wants to go to school. To make matters even better, they have a co-ed cheer squad, another passion my daughter wants to continue to pursue. And I couldn’t be prouder.
See it doesn’t matter that my kids won’t be attending Stanford, or Harvard, or Yale. I’m beginning to see those schools much the way I see my Burberry bag—the name is only important to me, others who have a Burberry, or those who long to have one. At the end of the day, it’s still just a bag. Just holding all my crap. Serving its purpose. Except I paid a crapload for it. Good thing I saved up.
To my children and to all those high schoolers who are plotting out the next steps of their journey, my advice once again is quite simple. Go Get It.
Leave the wishes of your parents behind. Leave this idea of going to college to just go to college behind. Find what makes you happy. Whether it’s joining the military, becoming a cosmetologist, an artist, a doctor, a mechanic, a paramedic, a lawyer, a manager—whatever it may be. Don't sign up because it looks good on paper, makes your parents excited to brag about your degree or your school choice to their friends, or because you feel the pressure to spend $20,000 a year for four years just because. Ask yourself where your passion is. And then, go get it. If you do, you won’t have to only live for your weekends because the other five days of the week suck.
One day I’ll look back on these times and remember when I had two kids thinking about college, getting letters of recommendation, and longing to be out on their own. When the garage was filled with kids, hoods up all around, the tools spread out on his section of the garage. When the cheer bag was over-flowing, the schedules posted on the fridge, the homework done in the kitchen, the scratching of the back, the massaging of sore muscles, the lunch money getting distributed.
And when this time comes to fruition, my only hope is that my two children found their happiness. Pretty simple.
Meredith is a mom, daughter, sister, wife, friend, teacher, critic, Starbucks junkie, writer, coach, and a million other things. She enjoys writing about the good, scary, funny, sad, exciting and all those other truths that too many people are afraid to write about. You can find her blog at http://merelovesthepack.blogspot.com or on Twitter: @FmTheSidelines.