21 March 2015

THE UNIVERSITY SERIES: Now What?

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So you've done it: you've graduated high school. You've made it through those four hormone led, confusing filled years of teen angst and rebellion. You made it up to that stage to collect your diploma, posed for the photo mid-stage and got to the other side.

After the euphoria of finally getting out of the so-called prison, away from your teachers and all that horrid homework, you might realize you haven't a clue what you're about to do.

You might be asking yourself: Now what?

I remember being there. Wondering what the hell was going to happen next. Where I would end up, what I'd end up doing. I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I was even more frustrated at the fact that people actually expected me to know. I wasn't even eighteen, I hadn't even hit what is supposed to be middle age. How was I supposed to know for sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? How was I supposed to know what I wanted to spend thousands of dollars studying, to help me graduate once more and get an adult job and do adult things.

Some people are lucky. They know what they want, and they know how to get it. They're passionate and driven and have their eye on the prize. Some know by the time they hit sixteen what they were meant to do in their lives. That's all fine and dandy, but for the most of us out there, we simply play along and pretend like we're on the same page. In actuality, we haven't a smidgen of a clue.

And that's okay, too.

You don't have to know. You don't have to have a clear idea. Hell, you don't even have to have an idea. You're young, and you might be confused but I'm going to let you in on a little secret: we're all a little confused. Even now, at twenty-three, I'm not sure where I'm going to be and I'm almost done my second year of university.

So when you're sitting in your room, surrounded with school applications and job applications, and trying to figure it all out, I want you to consider a few things:

  1. You don't have to go straight to university. If you don't know what you want to do, spending thousands of dollars just to do something seems a little like a waste of time, right? University is a smart choice for some, but it most definitely isn't a one size fits all thing. If you don't think it's for you, you do not have to go. One of the smartest decisions I ever did was wait. I went and did what I wanted to do, because at the end of the day, it was me who had to live with myself. 
  2. There are amazing options that don't have to be university. There's community college, trade school, or getting a job. The great thing about not going straight to uni is that it will still be there if you decide at some point it's for you. Trust me when I say that you will never be too old to go to school. Education doesn't have an age limit, just like people who have been in the same career for twenty years can suddenly change their minds and quit their job. I have people in their forties and fifties in some of my classes, so don't be afraid to take some time to figure it out. 
  3. You should also consider the financial side. Unfortunately, university is expensive. It's the most expensive decision you may make other than purchasing a home (maybe even more damaging than purchasing your first home). If you do it just to please your parents, you're going to be 25, with a massive student loan weighing you down and an overwhelming sense of regret because you got nothing from it. If you're one of the lucky ones to have your parents pay for your education, it's still important to remember that even if you don't have to pay for it, you still have to do the work. 
  4. Is university the right road for the career you want? Are you doing this for you or for someone else? 
  5. Life experience is just as important. Travel for a year, get a full-time job, try new activities. These things could lead to you figuring out what excites you and what you may want to do. When I graduated high school, I barely knew who I was and was so afraid to tell people how I really felt or what I wanted, I never did. I spent two years studying acting after graduating, and I not only grew as an actor, but I grew as a person as well. Having the courage to take a road that nobody else was, and ignoring the negative comments from people who didn't agree with what I wanted is one of the things I'm most proud of. I don't think I'd be the person I am today if I didn't have that experience.
What I want you to remember is that this is your life. You have the control to paint that life as whatever you choose. Don't let others have the ability to keep you from chasing your dreams. You're the one that has to live with your choices, so make sure they are yours.

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