Start Your Life Before You Have To

“One more semester and then I’ll be in the real world.”

“One more final then I have to start looking for a real job”

“Adulting”

These are all phrases I’ve been hearing for the past couple years and wanted to talk about it.

You’re in 6th grade and the only thing on your mind is getting to 8th grade and ruling middle school. You’re in 9th grade and you gotta know if you made the team. It consumes you (but then again I was homeschooled, how would I know). You’re a sophomore and you gotta start “adulting”. Applying to colleges and maybe paying a phone bill. Freshman year of college you’ve finally made it and can start your life. No parents. No curfew. No one telling you “No”. At least for the moment…

Senior year you look up and life crashes into you like a tsunami. You gotta figure out how to open a bank account, apply for a credit card, and interview for a job. You’ve been so worried about what concert you were going to next that this whole “life” thing has been put on hold.

This doesn’t describe every Millennial, but it is predominately what I’ve been watching ever since freshman year of high-school. Millions of students growing up with their eyes to the floor worried about trivial things then one day they look up at the world around them and feel helpless.

Is this their fault? Well partially, but it’s also our cultures. Partially theirs because when I hear “One more final and I gotta start looking for a real job” I think to myself, “Why weren’t you already doing this?” Partially our culture’s because no one expects them to.

When I was in high school I worked a full time job and was able to put money in the bank and a job on my resume. This freed me up to do things later on in life. Sure my grades suffered, but I put life ahead of school.

This may be controversial and I’m still thinking through this.

Never put school ahead of life. You can leverage school for your life, which is what a friend of mine is doing. He’s a genius and is going to gobble up as many degrees and letters as he can which is awesome! As long as you’re geared that way. But never sacrifice a stepping stone in your career or life, for more points on a test.

I recently struck up a conversation with a guy in my business law class who is my age and has a paid internship at a Fortune 500 company, he has a 790 credit score, and plenty in the bank. This dude is 20 years old. He’s not worried about our school events or which party, festival, or road trip to take next.

When he graduates, he’s not looking up and getting hit by the tsunami, he’s surfing it here and now. Because he took initiative to start his life, and didn’t wait.

I’ve got multiple friends who started businesses in college, one who wrote a book in high school, another in college, and a couple who designed apps on the side.

I’m watching too many college graduates freak out about what to do next with their life. When if they had just put in a little extra work on the side. Developed a better network, started a crappy business, or just went out of their comfort zone more often, if they had done any of these things for the past 8 years they’d be in a better place than they are now.

Granted I don’t have it all together. This is all advice from someone who has been on the earth for less time than a nice bottle of wine. I’ve got goals and ideas of what I’d like to do, but I know life rarely goes how you think it.

I guess I’m just saying don’t get so caught up in the here and now. Be prepared for down the road. It’s not too late. Start reading. Start learning. Get coffee with someone who could help you.

Because you’ll blink and there you are in front of that tsunami of responsibilities.