You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.
Source: Alma Mater
Let me begin by saying this, and do pardon my language in advance: Most people had no idea whatever the fuck their path of life is.
When I first confirmed my attendance to this event, I honestly have no idea that it also meant I have agreed to deliver a speech, let alone in the topic about life and its path. A good friend of mine told me I should be flattered, but in my part, I still can’t fathom why of all other people the school entrusted me such a huge matter to be addressed while here we have trained, professional educators who are in many ways more experienced and well-equipped than I am. And I am worried that I would be absolutely of no help and in no capacity to enlighten us in this topic since, not only that I cannot pinpoint a specific definition to it, I no longer think it is important to mull over.
Today I came here only to find that I was not the first person the school considered for this, yet I was the only one available and immediately RSVP-d my attendance, along with the confirmation by mistake which was unknown, but was also unexpected. Essentially, the only blatant advice I can give you today is to check and actually read your emails before replying it. Certainly a trait that will save lives, or save you from public speaking when you have problems with anxiety as I do.
Now, in order to fit conveniently with the whole 15 minutes scheduled, let me propose you another context in relations to the initial topic. I would like to talk about the idea that anyone needs to, at some point–usually after high school–figure out what they want to do in life, and then try to make it as lucrative as possible, thus the merge of your smaller career path with your life in general. I reckon this concept is quite spurious.
Firstly, as mentioned before, not everyone knows a distinct or set path of where to go on with life as there is no such thing as certainty of what is to come. Secondly, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to turn what they want to do into jobs or a career path. Some are most fortunate as they are endowed with early realization and means to “follow their passion”. Some are fortunate enough to find it in classes or jobs which inspires them, or those who came to realize it later as they keep on trying. Some are not as fortunate, and the saddest would be the point where they blame themselves for their “failure” of not living the “dream” but being stuck because someone needs to pay the bills. No, one size does not fit all, and that is true with life as well. There is not one exact path everyone needs to follow. And those I mentioned is limited to my own experience.
All the reminders of “expectations” people impose upon you are arguably well-meant. Sometimes we do need a little push to actually think about life and our near future, but it is still a difficult question to answer even when you’re older. When I was 14, I thought I was going to be a doctor, and I am sure that it is the reason why I exist; to help people. When I was 17, the only opportunity I have to go to university is to study something else entirely, but I still take it as it is the only place I got accepted. It was a hard first year, but by then I understood that there are other ways to help people. Neither have I expected that by those years and some more years to come I was blessed with meeting really good people–some I have the luxury to call friends. When I was 22, I finally got the balls to conclude that I don’t like what I am currently studying, and that I have a particular system of making decisions, which is merely to take the best offer from the plate called life. I realize that the only sensible thing I can do is to take the most reasonable job offers, while managing myself to keep in touch with things I like to do to gain some sanity back.
And here I am right now, a graduate student who is in all actuality an unemployed sod; another reason why the school should have had a look at my LinkedIn profile before signing me up for this. Not sure if I have helped anyone as I pictured it when I was 17, nor in the smallest way possible. Alive, but probably not as lively, but even that’s enough. At least for now, for me myself.
My point is, I am in no place to dictate you about life because I am still in the process of making sense of it up to now. Same goes with some other people older than you. We all ponder about life, and how you define it influences how you live it, and how you find value in living. Other people ain’t got no shit in telling you to do the otherwise unless you let them.
So, don’t worry about not figuring life out all at the same time, or about consistently following through it no matter what. Changes, mistakes, “failures” which are not final in any sense, should be welcome though, for real of course, not immediately. Take your time, take a breather, and start again if things don’t work out, or keep working on it if they do.
Before I end this speech, I would probably need to apologize if my opinions had managed to waver thoughts or firm beliefs about life that it cause despair more than it provide solace. But above all, I wish all of you good luck, for it is important to have it on your side when taking your first or any other steps and assessing decisions you make in all these series of calms-before-the-constant-storms called life. Mazel tov.