We’re taught from a very young age that the major decision of our lives, are not ours to make. We go to preschool, primary school and secondary school where we’re told what to do every day of our lives; when to eat, when to work, when to socialise, and when to do extra-curricular activities.
We spend a good twelve years of our lives learning things that we’ll seldom use again, about subjects we had little to no option in taking, all to be expected to know EXACTLY what we want to do when we leave the educational system. All through schooling we’re taught vast amounts of knowledge (theory) and not enough application of this knowledge (practical).
As someone who forewent university and college, and instead took a path that seemed fairly ‘backwards’ to everyone around me at the time, I can really relate to the societal pressures of making that life-changing decision at the rip age of eighteen. I could see even at that age, that the system I had been fed through was floored.
1) School doesn’t teach you the life skills you need in order to make such decisions
I remember those first couple of months after school, living in the real world, feeling completely overwhelmed at how much I didn’t know. I kept thinking, why wasn’t I taught any of these skills in school? Simple things like how to fill out a form felt like a mammoth task that I was totally unequipped for. Why? Because during school I was too busy trying to learn the Pythagorus theorem.
Life skills such as how to budget, what are taxes and mortgages, how to use a washing machine etc. are all skills we need to have in life which schools fail to teach. I truly believe that we are missing out on equipping the younger generations with the skills they need. Perhaps if kids were taught at an earlier age what the adult world consisted of, they’d be more able to visualise what that world looks like to them and therefore what they want to spend the rest of their lives doing.
2) It’s more socially acceptable to sit in university doing a degree you have no interest in using, compared to getting out there in the working world and DISCOVERING what you want to do.
This is something I see time and time again, yet it seems to be the most acceptable course to take by most teachers, parents and other kids. Why is it more acceptable to waste three/four years of our lives sitting in a degree/diploma that we have no interest in using, all to bide us time until we’re forced to face the real world? We not only waste our precious time and money (which for most people is their parents’), we also subject ourselves to more pressure and anxiety by delaying the inevitable ‘what do I want to do for the rest of my life?’ question.
Flipping it on its’ head encourages kids to go out and work first and allows young people to gain invaluable learning lessons like the value of money, the commitment of working hours, and how to work within a company, whilst exposing them to what their chosen fields feel like and whether its a good fit for them. It’s a much more practical and time-efficient process which benefits everyone, and makes for a more well-rounded, confident individual.
3) We’re not taught that we can never make the wrong decision. There is no such thing as ‘failure’ or mistakes.
The biggest fear attached to making the decision of what to do after school, is the fear of making the wrong decision. No matter how old you are or how much experience you have, you will always be faced with making tough decisions. What the educational system seems to forget to teach young kids is that ‘mistakes’ are inevitable in life, but no matter how bad they seem, you always end up exactly where you’re meant to be.
So instead of allowing kids to feel such a sense of pressure about making the ‘wrong’ decision, teach them about the journey of life. Teach kids about passion, get them to ask introspective questions about who they are and what they enjoy doing. Help them help themselves by teaching them to be able to follow what they love in life, by learning to not fear their journey.