Are you unsure of who you are or where you’re going? Well, then stand at the back of the line to your left and someone will issue you your membership card. More and more young people are waking up, looking around them and thinking, “I have no idea what’s next.” The way your parents made it in the world doesn’t seem to be working anymore and they have no idea what to tell you.
Maybe you have a degree and you don’t know what to do with it. Maybe you haven’t gotten a degree because you have no idea where to start. Previous generations got degrees, got jobs and got families. But the choices seem so much broader for your generation. That is both exciting and scary. You want fulfillment. But what does that look like and how do you find it?
The first step on this journey is to find out who you are. We are all unique individuals with our own talents, values, shortcomings and needs. Only by knowing yourself more fully will you be able to figure out what fulfillment looks like to you. Then, you can begin creating the roadmap to get there.
The beginning of the process of knowing ourselves starts with knowing what we think and believe and knowing how we feel about these things. When we know our beliefs and our feelings, we know our values and knowing our values is the beginning of creating our roadmap.
So, play a game with me.
Imagine your closest friend is talking about you, you overhear her/him say this about you, “S/he is my closest friend because s/he is ___________.” What do you most want to hear there? What about overhearing your parent say, “What I really respect about him/her is __________.” The things that came to your head (be it “loyal,” “giving,” “hard-working” etc) are values or yours; these are things that you consider important in your life.
Now, make a quick list of your pet peeves, the things that drive you crazy. Mine include people who don’t say “thank you” (eg when a car stops for them at a crosswalk or someone holds a door open for them). That list also tells you about some of your values. People who don’t say “thank you” bug me because I have a really strong value around courtesy and community.
These are just a couple of tools we can use to begin to flush out our values. Once you understand what gives your life meaning and completeness that can inform the direction you want to go. For example, if one person has core values around creativity, taking risks, having a higher standard of living and being acknowledged by others, they might want to consider their own start up. However, if another person really values collaborating with a team, caring for the disadvantaged and having work/life balance, a start up might be dead wrong for them. Knowing who you are now will help you figure out where you want to go.
The vastness of your future can look intimidating but the good news is that the options for young people who know what they want are more open than ever before. Figure out who you are and then take the world by storm; we are all waiting for you to succeed.