So you want to know what the future holds for you? You have questions about where you'll live, what you'll do for a living, and who you'll love. In a sense, these questions (along with more abstract questions about why you exist and why you are here on this planet) are the reasons behind the entire study of spirituality. Anyone who has gone to the trouble to work all the way through this material is seeking answers to important questions. But you are also probably aware that those questions will likely never have simple answers.
Here are suggestions I'd like to offer as you continue the task of making choices for your future.
- Surround yourself with people who care about you and who can be good advisors as to what your strengths and weaknesses are.
- Follow the interests and skills you begin to see in yourself and that others point out in you.
- Find places where you can work to make the world a better place. You may find in that service a calling even if not a career,
- Practice mindfulness.
- Finally and most importantly, never give up on yourself. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you.
There are exceptions to some of these suggestions. The first is that no one, not even the best advisor, can tell you what your career really should be. Their dreams, my dreams, even your dreams are no match for what you may be doing in the future. Don't let yourself be limited by anyone's lack of imagination. Be open to all the love, pain, and adventure awaiting you. Great advisors who dearly love you are still not aware of all the potential that God sees in you.
The interests and strengths you see in yourself may be more the result of the experiences you have had up until today. They may not be proof of a calling.
If Michael Jordan had never had a chance to play basketball as a kid, he would not only NOT have become "Air Jordan," he likely would not have become a multimillionaire businessman or a patron of social causes either.
I am sure that the first time Michael picked up a ball he didn't magically become a great lay-up artist or rebounder. He likely missed a lot of 'freebie shots" before he perfected his game. Follow the strengths you find in yourself, but also collect all the other experiences and try your hand at a variety of skills--being willing to flub all of them a few times--before you decide that you don't have what it takes for that particular field of endeavor. Follow your strengths but don't forget to keep trying at some of your weaknesses.
Some of you reading this don't need to be encouraged to do work that serves the world. You are already experienced at feeding the hungry, writing letters to your elected leaders, walking to raise money for good causes and such. I think that is wonderful. Some wonderful self-sacrificing young people, however, take on these causes and stay active in doing good in order to fill hollow spaces in themselves that should be filled in other ways.
All of us who have worked in not-for-profit organizations have seen people who work incredibly hard for months on end and then because they find that the work they are doing is not filling a certain void in their heart, they become angry and sometimes even destructive in their volunteer work. Give of yourself in volunteer work, but also be mindful of the tendency to make "giving of self" a way of masking personal problems. Before you can give love and make peace in the world you must first love yourself and be at peace within your own skin. Don't wait to become perfect before you reach out to help, but don't reach out to help for unhealthy reasons.
One final exception, Yes, DO practice mindfulness. Think things through and do things for a reason, BUT ALSO don't neglect to do random, unplanned, thoughtless acts of kindness. Don't be so thoughtful or so calculating in your work or in your play that you miss the chance to surprise yourself by being a mirror to accidentally reflect light into otherwise dark places.