No pressure, there. Especially not since I just recently learned that the talk WAS on empowering the next generation.
Never one to back down from a challenge, though, I boiled it down to five words.
Forgive. Learn. Love. Grow. Persevere.
Since the last post was on forgiving yourself and others (including your parents) for not being perfect, I wanted to ramble on this time about learning and growing.
I am 56 years old. I have traveled to every continent except for Australia, lived in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, California, Canada, Alaska, Mississippi, Japan, Pakistan, North Dakota, Colorado and probably several other places I have forgotten.
Never once have I met anyone who said,
"You know, I wish I was more ignorant."
"The real mistake I made in life was learning too much."
"I wish I hadn't gotten so much education."
(PAYING too much for your education is a subject for a different day, or a financial aid workshop.)
If I could only give you one piece of advice to be financially successful, it would be this:
NEVER PASS UP AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
Don't ever, ever ask, "When I am ever going to use this?"
When I was in college in the 1970s, I took computer programming classes because they were required. No one in my classes thought we'd use it. Computers were super-expensive and took up an entire room. I took a statistics class just because it sounded interesting and fit in my schedule. My husband took a programming class offered by the computer club at his university just because it sounded like fun.
We have both made careers writing software and for much of mine it has been statistical analysis.
I studied Japanese in college and when I applied to study abroad in Japan, I was accepted in part because I was one of only two applicants who had any Japanese language and there were two open spots!
Nothing drives me crazier than when someone who works for me objects to doing a task because, "I don't know how to do that."
I want to shout at them (okay, I admit it, sometimes I DO shout at them) FIGURE IT OUT! None of us that know how to do whatever it is shot out of the womb knowing that. We figured it out.
There isn't a point when it becomes okay to stop learning. Sometimes people will apply for a job and I really want to hire them because they are such nice people but they don't have the skills for what I need done because they got comfortable in a job years ago and quit learning. No one needs VCR repairmen any more. No one needs 8-track tape installers. Do you even know what an 8-track tape is? No? My point exactly!
Read. Get a library card and check out books. Go on youtube and watch videos that teach you how to program, bake cakes, whatever. Go to the Khan Academy website. There is a lot more on the Internet than pictures of cats and Beyonce. Search it out.
Read your textbooks and pay attention in class. For the love of God, you're already there! Puh-lease don't tell me you aren't studying because that teacher is mean or doesn't like you or you hate her. Guess what, kiddo, whether you get an A or an F, that teacher still gets paid.
There is a difference between being educated and mature. As someone who spent many years as a well-educated, immature brat, I can guarantee this.
What does it mean to be a grown-up? If I ever grow up all the way, I'll let you know. As of now, though, I think every woman as she matures should learn to do a few things better than when she was in middle school. Here is my list, and feel free to add your own.
- Take responsibility for your own actions. No one made you drink that beer, slap the person in the seat in front of you or keep you from doing your homework. Unless someone came to your house and tied you up, there was SOME way you could have gotten that homework done, gotten home from that party, got to the job interview.
- Consider perspectives other than your own. Maybe the reason your mother, teacher, coach or boss wants you to do something is not because they are evil and want to ruin your life. Maybe they think that staying home on Friday night and studying or practicing soccer would be better for you than hanging out with the cutest person in the 11th grade. I know that is hard to imagine. Maybe that boss is not thinking of you at all but rather of the fact that the store where you work is busiest on Fridays, that's when they make the most money and there really need to be seven people working.
- Learn to give up what you want now for what you want most. First of all, figure out what you want most, whether it is a world championships, PhD, singing career, a college degree or to start a company. When you have the chance to go to a party, watch Vampire Diaries or sleep until noon, don't do it and do something in pursuit of your goal instead.
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