By: Phil Ortiz
What’s the Point?
What do I like to do? What would I be good at? How do I even know if I will like what I do? What about college? Should I even go? I don’t even know what i’m going to major in. Would I be wasting money? Maybe i’ll just figure it out when I get there. How am I going to pay for college? Should I just take out loans? What if I don’t like the classes? What if I don’t like the college? How do I know what college is right for me? What am I going to do after I graduate? How am I going to pay off my loans? How do I even know what I would be good at? All my friends are going to this college, maybe I should go…if they like it then I might… My family went to that college, I should just go to the same one. There is no way I could go to college, I could never afford it.
Sounds pretty hectic, but that is exactly what is going on in students heads while in high school and right after they graduate. The facts are that these questions are so difficult to answer and students are so far off from anything they can call an answer that they don’t even think about trying to find an answer. So on the outside it looks as though they don’t care, but in reality, they do, they just don’t have the tools to answer these questions.
Deep within every student there is an immeasurable amount of potential to succeed. Yet that will never be unleashed unless the student knows where and how to apply that potential. Every student coming out of high school was born with strengths. Every student, your son or daughter, or even you holding this book, were defined and wired for a specific purpose. But what is that purpose? What are these “things”? What are these “strengths”? How do I tap in this potential? Are you sure I actually have strengths? Yes, absolutely everyone has strengths. Our strengths were not given to us simply to achieve our own goals. Our strengths were given so we can fulfill God’s purpose and plan for our lives and bring His Kingdom. This is the concept of vocation, or calling. “A job is what you are hired to do, a calling is what you are wired to do.”
What students first need is for someone to “draw out” these inner talents, strengths and gifts then they can be “poured” into with personalized, focused and applicable education according to their strengths. The object of students in high school is to identify these strengths then develop, cultivate and test these strengths in college. Once you better understand and appreciate your personal strengths, you can get a clearer focus on your identity with a more specific direction for your future. This will create a mindset that will not make work seem like an actual task. When you sit down to start a project, or a paper, it won’t feel like a burden, hanging over your head like those fill in the blank worksheets, research papers, or boring reading assignments about topics you don’t understand and subjects you don’t really care about. You will begin to study subjects that excite your mind and will instigate your desire to learn.
Find Your Calling
The age at which we are asked to make the most life changing decisions is often an age where we have not seasoned our decision-making processes with real world experience. Inevitably, high school and college age youth will struggle to find their way, changing jobs or changing majors until they feel they are headed in the right direction. But for some, they are already committed to a plan of action, and so continue on knowing on some level that this is not where they want to be. Picking a major path and pouring years of effort towards training in a field we may later have no interest in (or even outright dislike) is a pretty frightening prospect for an 18 year old to face.
Will we go to college, or get a job? What major path should we pick? Is this what I’ll want to be doing when I am 80? For lack of knowing how to answer these questions, many will opt for the path of getting a job while their friends choose the path of college. Those who choose college may see their friends go to work and they may wonder if they should have done the same. Those that opted not to go to college ponder whether they should have stayed in school.
Discipline plays a large part in much of the choices made at this age. Many choices are made based on the ‘play now, pay later’ theory, where we believe we have all the time in the world to ‘get serious’ later in life. If only we could go back in time to our former selves to deliver a warning. Pay for it and sacrifice now, and it will cost you way less than if you put it off. Going to college or trade school when you are young, full of energy, and very likely without family obligations means you can pay now and play later.
Sadly, very few answers are available for the youth of today. Making decisions without a frame of reference for the gravity of what we are choosing is like playing Russian roulette with our futures. Though it is not implemented on many high school campuses to my knowledge, I believe there should be a personality test administered to graduating high school seniors to help determine where they should consider setting their sights in terms of their major path or career goal.
The Briggs/Meyers personality test, for example, is an amazing and utterly fascinating glimpse into how each of us is uniquely wired. Administration of a test like this could save years of angst and heartache for those going forth into the world without a clue about where they’d like to end up. Without knowing what your strengths are, how can a person possibly know what they could feel passionate about? Without knowing your weaknesses, how can a person know what paths to avoid?
And so, aside from some vague steering in a general direction, there is not a truly comprehensive ‘test’ given to determine what someone’s calling is. And so, it is with trepidation and more than a little fear that most head out, hoping that they have made the right decisions. Yet they have no basis by which to gauge if this is the case until years have passed and they are utterly committed.
Knowing your purpose is a bit conceited. When I was preaching more, I would be asked on a regular basis, “How can you be sure”? The question is posed because people don’t understand how such a vague and general question about purpose can be articulated. But it can! You can know what you are supposed to do, and then set our goals to get it done!
Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker is a man who understands vision and how it is achieved in the world. We must be a generation who lives their life with conviction and purpose to action. For too long people have been talkers and not doers. We must be both. “Seeing” the way the world could be is only part of the paradigm, we must also go out and ‘Just do It’.
I encourage you, before you decide to invest multiple thousands of dollars and countless hours on college, ask yourself, why? Why go to college? What is the goal after college? It’s not all about being happy, it is about living in your strengths with purpose for life. Then success will follow. Then making a difference in the world will follow. Then being fulfilled will follow.
If you’re reading this, if you can hear me… Let me know if I am wrong. How do you feel about this idea?
I am a huge fan of catching the worm. I don’t do it often enough, but early mornings are when I am at my best! When I have been staying up too late and I edge further into the morning with dreams and sandy eyes, my life is truly drained. This doesn’t happen over night however, it takes time for the toll to be waged. Waking up early gives me the chance to do things no one else in the world can do. I can read, write, take walks, think in peace. It is a huge challenge to find time in the day to simply quiet my mind long enough to think, the morning helps me to do that. I love to write. In fact, I find that if I do not write, I simply am not myself. I may even move closer to insanity the longer I go without writing. I do not believe that I am a good writer, but I love to do it.
This begs the question, when are you at your best? And, are you living in it now? So often we allow others in our lives to dictate what we will or will not do, and while I am a huge fan of wisdom and advice, sometimes you just need to know what works for you and then DO IT! College is a lot like that. Unfortunately, so many of us went to college out of sheer obligation; little thought was given to how I do things best, or how can I live in my strengths using a history degree…
So do you know? Do you know when you are at your best and when you are simply going through the motions? I challenge you to uncover “the best” you, find your strengths, discover your passions. This will unleash a flood of innovation and creativity. This will benefit you now in your current situation (at work, home, school etc) AND in your future.
In living in a country like America, we have unique opportunities that many other countries simply do not offer their people. Here, rich or poor, you can affect your destiny; you can change your circumstances! This is the profound reality of going to college or trade school. All I want to do is create opportunities for people, young and old, to live in their purpose and calling. Do what you love to do. The days of working in a job you hate for 25 years are over- the new dawn has come.
Read this article and ask yourself, what could you do with your life? How much more can you be in the world?
Two years ago, I took a trip to India over summer break. I expected to experience new adventures and see famous sights. What I didn’t expect was to live in an underprivileged neighborhood in Southern India.
Nothing could prepare me to see how these people lived.
The people there lived in abject poverty. The homes were made of garbage, plastic and sticks. Every meal was filled with bugs and consisted of a handful of rice. There were no beds; we slept on the ant-infested floor. The children were uneducated and dirty. They bathed in a polluted lake nearby. The kids got up early and worked on chores all day. I didn’t know how these kids could possibly live knowing that their futures were right here in the same village.
One night, I saw all the kids going to an open field. I decided to tag along. The kids had been given a treasure some months ago from a visiting pastor, and it became their prized possession: a soccer ball.
Every night, they came together to forget about their problems and play. They were laughing, smiling and cheering. Gone were the weary, sad faces; they were in their own world now. Nothing in the world mattered except this game. It wasn’t about winning or losing; it was about getting away from the problems of poverty for an hour and being with a treasure that made them all feel rich.
As the slowly came to an end, the kids trudged back to their homes with smiles, prepared to go back to reality, but knowing that their treasure was waiting for them for the next night.
Becca Mathew, 16, is a student at Stevenson High School in Chicago. Becca won $100 for this article.
You too can win money for your talents! Let me show you how!