Graduating from high school marks the beginning of a new era in the life of a typical teenager. Once they grab their diploma and take off their robe, their lives officially change forever. Some are heading to college to further their education, and others are going straight to work. Others may decide that taking time to figure out what direction they want to take their life in is the best option. Their parents and teachers stand back and watch them take the next steps of their lives, hoping that they will use everything they’ve been taught to make the best out of their future. They are a generation full of leaders, inventors, and educators. Unfortunately for them, they’ve had their heads filled with lies and deception. In an attempt to protect and motivate teenagers, we spew nonsense about unrealistic realities they will encounter in the future. We scare them by beating into their heads that mistakes are costly and they must avoid them at all costs; but the reality is the mistakes they make will teach them more about life than we ever will. We don’t teach them that, in most cases, the most important part of a mistake or a failure is how you react to it and handle it. We teach them to simply avoid the mistakes all together, as if it’s possible to go through life without ever messing up. We need to stop treating teenagers like teenagers and start treating them like human beings. They are perfectly capable of handing the pressures and misfortunes of life. Let’s stop putting a disguise on their future by feeding them these lies:
1. A college degree is essential.
First of all, not all college degrees are created equal. If you earn a degree in history or creative writing, you will probably not have much luck finding a high-paying job, let alone one that will allow you to use the knowledge you’ve accumulated. On top of that, you probably accumulated a huge amount of debt because of student loans. Secondly, you can be hardworking and ambitious and not academically inclined. Plumbers and contractors can make excellent money (some have degrees, some do not). There are many people who do not have degrees that find a great deal of success. Because of the job market and the economy, more and more people are graduating college with thousands upon thousands of dollars of debt, and not being able to find a job for years.
2. You can be anything you want to be.
We all go through life being told that we can be anything we want. We aren’t, however, told to be realistic. If you’re short and have tiny fingers, you probably aren’t going to be the next big NBA superstar. If you get motion sickness, your chances of becoming an astronaut are pretty slim, too. So instead of teaching our youth that they can be whatever their hearts desires, let’s show them they do have the ability to be anything that their innate talent, passion, and hard work will grant them.
3. Money won’t make you happy.
Being broke won’t make you happy either. Ask anyone who has thousands of dollars of debt just how happy they are being faced with creditors and the possibility of losing their home every single day. Money may not make you happy, but it provides something that will: security.
4. You can have it all.
You can have a successful career, millions of dollars, loyal friends, a strong marriage, and a houseful of obedient children who love you, right? The odds are not in your favor. Some of these things will come at the expense of others. Read the success stories of well-known entrepreneurs and millionaires. It won’t take long before you realize that they live their work. That means they have very little time to devote to any other areas of their lives. You’re going to have to prioritize and decide what’s most important in your life. If you think you can work until 5 PM every night, come home to a spouse who’s elated to see you, and still have energy to spend time with your kids, catch a movie with friends, pay your bills, and then hit the gym, you’re sadly mistaken. This is not being said to be mean. In fact, we hope you prove us wrong.
5. The right person is out there waiting for you.
To meet the “right” person, you first have to be the right person for them. You have to be the best person you can be – a good listener, a good conversationalist with good values and admirable priorities. Second, you have to recognize the “right” person. “Right” is not synonymous with “hottest” and “chemistry” does not equate to “eternal love.”
6. If you’re patient, the opportunities will come.
This may be the biggest lie of them all. If you’re patient, opportunities will likely completely pass you by. Opportunities will very rarely fall into your lap. You have to put the hard-work and dedication into creating your own opportunities. That is how you will get ahead.