Although it has sometimes been a painful journey, our youngest son is growing up. The experts sure weren’t kidding when they say boys generally mature later in life than girls.
To be fair, it may also be that as a typical member of Generation Y he has been searching for work that he can be passionate about but will also allow him to combine work and play. Additionally, as with many others his age, it seems he has been overwhelmed by the wealth of choices juxtapositioned as they are against the reality of a not-so-rosy labour marketplace.
Regardless, he’s getting it together. He lives in Toronto and makes a living with a series of part-time jobs - running after-school and summer programs for kids, refereeing basketball and flag football, and serving as an occasional nanny for a well-to-do family. Eventually he plans to attend teachers college.
The challenge is that it makes for a rather precarious living. This month he is challenged by the fact that summer programs have ended, refereeing hasn’t started yet and the weekend job with the well-to-family was put on hold for their impulsive three week holiday.
As a result, when he called yesterday he was bored, worried about money, and generally not in a happy place.
I think he was looking for some kind of pep talk or words of wisdom that I was unable to provide. Or, maybe he just could have used an influx of cash but didn’t want to ask for it.
The thing is, I haven’t stopped thinking about him since, wondering what I could have, should have said.
Having thought about it, and for what it’s worth, here’s my life advice for BJ.
Take it easy…relax.
Don’t worry quite so much. While there’s a lot of pressure to make a perfect career choice, you’re still young. Chances are you’ll have a number of careers over your lifetime, especially if you’re anything like your mother. You have some very special skills and talents. I’m not sure you recognize them quite yet because one tends not to recognize one’s own gifts because as they come so easy and are so much fun, they don’t seem to be indicators of a career path. Give yourself some time to explore your gifts, let them grow and evolve. Think of your collective jobs as being part of building the portfolio that will ultimately lead you to the perfect career.
Follow your heart.
Although, you will need to put money aside for a rainy day, don’t worry quite so much about the money you will make or what anyone else will think. I’ve talked to many people who have a lot of regrets about listening to others instead of their own instincts. Take the time to stop and think about what it is you really want. Trust what your gut is telling you now, don’t wait for your middle age crisis to start listening to your own advice.
Don’t be afraid.
Build your capacity for courage and initiative. Start tomorrow and do one small thing each day that scares you. Call someone you admire and ask for career advice. Go ice skating to see if you really do have weak ankles. Call a place where you’d love to work and ask them if they’re accepting resumes. Small acts of courage and initiative will strengthen your ability to take bigger leaps when it’s time.
One of the reason you love your Nana so much is her kind and loving spirit. Never underestimate the importance of her mantra, “do under others, as you would have them do unto you”. Her warmth and willingness to give to others, even when it is simply a small kindness each and every day, makes the world a better place. The world needs more people like your Nana. Be a Nana.
It’s about the journey not the destination.
Who you become as a man in the journey of life, will always be far more important than what you do. Your character, your integrity, your reputation for keeping your word, the family you will raise, your service to others and to your community will be what ultimately matters most. Throughout your journey, in the good times and the bad, keep stopping and asking, “What is this teaching me and how can I grow from this experience?” Live in each moment. Live joyously. Remember where there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t give up when things get hard.
Keep colouring outside the lines. You’ve always been pretty good about being willing to bend the rules and being okay with the fact that everyone may not always like you (even though you are pretty personable!). Strive to be the unique, joyful and funny character you’ve always been. Don’t ever lose those qualities even when times get tough.
Take care of your physical self.
When you get to be my age you’ll understand why it’s important to keep your body sacred. I know you used to smoke occasionally. If you haven’t done so already, quit. Don’t drink alcohol more than occasionally. Keep up with your regular workouts especially when times are tough. It is true that physical activity releases the endorphins in your brain that will always make you feel better.
I know you haven’t always been big on reading but given the rapid pace of change in the world today, you will need more than your university degree to be successful. You don’t have to read books, but you will need to read the newspaper and magazines and surf the web. Consider taking a course, hang out with intelligent, educated people, and really listen to others - especially those who don’t think like you do. Do everything you can to improve your reading, writing and speaking skills. Communication will be critical to any path you choose.
Hang out with positive people.
Surround yourself with people who view life as a glass of water half full, instead of half empty. You will become like the people you hang out with so find the positive ones who will encourage you to take a chance. They will also be the ones who will be there rooting for you and believing in you. Just as I do.
Loving, and cheering you always, Mom
Posted on 09-11-07
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