At this point, you are about halfway through High School. You have friends, your grades are okay and what is most important to you right now, people like you. They find you funny. You don’t annoy or disappoint anyone. I know you may think that this is enough and that being the class clown and doing the bare minimum to get by is fine. I am writing this letter to tell you, with all due respect, that you are wrong. I wanted to tell you that even though you may be having what you perceive as fun right now, you are actually wasting precious time and your actions will bring consequences 10–15 years down the road. You can be better.
You have a something special inside you. You may not be the smartest kid in class but you are of above average intelligence. You are creative and charismatic. You can think fast and write well. You can be something better than what you are on the path to becoming. The path you are on right now is going to bring you to a place that you do not want to be. However, for me to convince you that you can be something better, I have to explain what you are currently on the path to becoming.
You’re passing your classes and that’s fine. Your grades will get you into a college, which is also okay. The issue is, you could be doing so much more. You could be putting more effort into your journalism class. You could be focusing on becoming a great writer. That focus and passion could get you into a better school with a major you truly care about. I know you aren’t focused on your post-college graduation life, but you should be. You should be because if you start to care now, you can ensure that you are much happier later.
If you do average work, you will go to an average school and eventually get an average job. An average job where you sit in an office, every day, from 9–5 and work at a computer. You don’t get to go outside. You don’t get to enjoy a beautiful morning because you are required to be at work at a certain time. Furthermore, if you continue to do just enough to get by, the number of jobs that will be open to you will be limited. The fun, exciting jobs at growing, interesting companies will be accepting candidates with better grades and internships. Those candidates knew what they wanted out of their post-college lives and where they wanted to go. They are going to be living the type of life they envisioned for themselves. You will be living a life that has been lived out by millions of average men that have come before you. A life of routine, boredom, and lack of fulfillment and consistent joy. Do I have your attention now?
Start caring now. Start asking questions, taking chances, and most importantly do the best work you can. Use the rest of your college days seeking out things that excite you, things that bring your passion. Start looking into what colleges have what majors, what the courses look like, and what types of careers you can have afterward. Focus on all your classes to get better grades. A better GPA will get you into a better school. A better GPA will also get you more scholarship money, which means fewer loans to pay off when you are older.
I know you may think college is two years away, but trust me, it will be here before you know it. When you arrive, have a plan. You don’t have to plan out the next four years but you should write down 5 things you want to get out of college. Those things can change and you can add to the list but it gives you somewhere to begin. For example, “What type of person do I want to become?”, “What am I interested in?”, “What questions do I have about the real world?”. Like High School, it will be very tempting and easy to do the bare minimum. That type of thinking and lack of action will result in an unsatisfying career when you are older. Choose the path that allows you to take advantage of all the opportunities that will be presented to you. Pick the brains of your professors. Ask questions of visiting alumni. Go see guest speakers when they come to your campus. Visit the career center to secure meaningful internships every year, not just your last year when it’s required. Above all else, give proper time and respect to your classes. Don’t count showing up to class as a victory. Show up with the goal of gaining knowledge. This is the time to discover what interests you because it can help determine what you should be doing once you graduate.
What I am trying to say, is care about what is coming next. It’s thing huge thing that you don’t know is coming and you don’t yet understand how your actions these next 6 years will affect it. You have so much more talent than you are aware of. You can be so much more than you are currently on the path to becoming. If you keep behaving this way, you will end up with an average, boring job that you will leave you feeling unfulfilled. I promise you what’s coming next for you is not fun. You are putting yourself in a hole that will take years to dig out of. If you start caring right now, start working harder and smarter right now, you will change your path. You will discover your passion at 16, not 30. You will open doors for yourself you never even knew existed. All you have to do is think differently about how you approach the future. I hope you start today, because tomorrow will be here before you know it, and currently, you won’t like what it’s bringing.
Kyle is a youth/education public speaker and blog author. His goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the choices they are about to make and the next steps in their lives.
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The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.