Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Harsh reality for our generation

"We must stop telling children 'You can be anything you want to be' or 'You should never give up on your dreams.' Why? Because both of these statements are patently untrue. Not everyone is good at what he would like to do, and even if he is, the profession might be very competitive and full of talented people. Adults cannot follow their dreams all the time, but must deal with the practical matters of getting a job that pays the well. It's fine to tell a kid to try to find a profession that they enjoy, but talk of 'dreams' and being 'anything you want' creates unrealistic expectations that are bound to disappoint. We're raising idealistic children who expect the world and can't even buy a condo, who believe that every job will be fulfilling and then can't even find a boring one. It's especially tempting to utter these aphorisms to smart and talented kids, but they especially need to realize that it will still take a lot of hard work and luck to make it--lots and lots of smart people don't get into the law school of their choice, or get their dream job. Yes, your talent will open up more possibilities, but it doesn't actually mean that you will be able to do anything you want to do. I have never met someone who was truly, objectively, good at everything."

"Instead children should learn that growing up is a gradual process of learning what you're good at and what you're not. Then they have to figure out how to apply that to a career. There are some talents that aren't going to lead to paying a job, and others that might. [...] These skills also need to be viewed through a realistic lens. Even the extremely skilled baseball player is unlikely to make it to the major leagues. The extremely talented actor probably won't become a movie star. Few people realize how difficult it is to get into med school or land a university teaching job. This doesn't mean that young people should be discouraged from pursuing these professions, but that they should be prepared for how difficult it might be."

From the book Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge.
I recommend this for anyone born in the 70's, 80's, and 90's.



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