This is going to come off pretty blunt, but you need to learn how to settle. As a millennial myself, I’ve been fed the same bullshit and lies since I was a child and it honestly feels like I’ve just started realizing it’s all a big lie. Will this whole letter come off bitter and belligerent? Yes, but you should listen anyways.
I’ve read a lot about why our generation is failing. Why we drop out of programs, why our depression and anxiety rates are through the roof, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion. It’s because we don’t know how to settle.
For the record. I don’t mean settle on a career or a partner or whatever that will leave you miserable. I mean choose the option that is logical, that may be more comfortable and reliable than it is “fun”.
We’re told from the time we’re little that the sky is our limit, that we should follow our dreams and settle for nothing less than perfection, but that’s all wrong. I don’t think you’re meant to grow up working every day doing what you love. We tell kids that like to draw that they should thrive to be artists, to purse liberal arts degrees and to not pay attention to the piles and piles of statistics telling them that they will not get a career, that they will not make any money because they are the special little star, and as long as they *believe* in themselves nothing will go wrong. Well I’m here to tell you that things will go wrong. I mean, of course not for everyone, I’m not horribly pessimistic, the truth of the matter is that there are some exceptions, but most likely, you are not one of them.
The thing is. Starting school when you’re 3 to 4 years old has some major disadvantages. It puts all your self worth on numbers, on marks. It makes you feel like grades and report cards are the only type of validation that matter. Being out of school for over a year now has been tough at times, because I don’t have a sheet of paper telling me if what I’m doing is right or not, and when the time comes neither will you.
I’ve written paragraph after paragraph of depressing shit and deleted it all because you don’t need to hear it. All you need to hear is that you need to learn how to settle, or at least slow down until you can rightfully come upon the results you’re waiting for.
We live in a time where every thing is instant, and what we want, or better yet, what we feel like we deserve, is fast and positive results but truthfully life isn’t like that. Decisions are hard and take time and we no longer take the time that is needed and that’s why we’re depressed. We go to school for things that aren’t practical because we never took the step back to think “hey, maybe I can’t actually do that and maybe it’s not so smart after all.” We’re rushed to figure out our whole lives at 17 years old, while forcefully being told that we can do it all, and we can’t. We’re thrown off our graduation stage into the real world and the pressure becomes too much and we crack. We change our mind and we flunk out and then we resent ourselves for giving up or not succeeding because we’re shining stars and we should have been able to do anything, we should have never burned out. We were never taught how to process failure, just how to accept inevitable success.
At first, I viewed this past year as my biggest failure yet. I finished school and after realizing that I no longer saw myself pursing a career in my given certificate, I gave up applying to related positions. I’ve spent over a year working at McDonald’s fighting promotions because I didn’t want to get too comfortable. I became horribly depressed, anxious, hopeless and frankly suicidal. I thought I was a shining star. I thought I was the exception. I though I’d finish school young, get working in a “real” career and everything else would just fall into place, but none of that happened. It’s been a long year, filled with lots of personal disappointments, but all lots of triumphs too. The biggest of all of them being that I learnt how to settle. I’m not working at McDonald’s because I’m waiting for my big career debut, but because I learnt to accept that this is my life right now. That I don’t know what my next step is, so for now, I’m just going to come to terms with the reality of my life; I’m a fast food worker who dropped out of university because she wanted to be a mum, not a student for 12 years. I’m a girl who gave up on her college certified career option because I grew tired of it before I even began, because I made a mistake going to school for something I knew nothing about. I’m a girl who is still figuring stuff out every day.
It took me a long time to realize that I don’t deserve opportunities, that none of us do. That the people who are successful, who are in school or working in careers that they are good at is because they try hard to do so. They may not be passionate about what they are doing, but they may love that they’re good at it. I think that’s important.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Be humble. Your education or current life standing is no better or worse than anyone else’s. The frame of mind you hold about your situation is the only thing that matters. Pursue a purpose, not a passion. You may love drawing, but doing it every day as a career isn’t going to keep your passion any more alive than if you did it in your spare time out side of work hours. Be logical and patient. Take the time you need to think. Don’t rush into things like a secondary school program, or a new city to live in. It may take you a while to realize what you really want to do and that’s ok. It’s not until you’ve messed everything up that you realize there really isn’t any rush to get things right, because you may very well never get it all right.
And that’s ok too, because it’s all a part of the process, and hopefully, you’ve learnt to accept and settle with your present.
Kate (your not so shiny star)