You made it through college. Congratulations. Now what are you going to do?
You know what most people do? They go try and find a job. They don’t reward themselves for completing one of the toughest assignments of their life to date. So what about you? Yeah, are you ready for the great experiment we call life? Without a scrap of experience?
Next question – how do you get experience? Well you work at it. But funnily enough, that experience is wherever you want to find it. You can volunteer. You can travel. You can hike the West Coast Trail in British Columbia. You can climb Mount Washington. You can go spend time in Spain and immerse yourself in a new language. The possibilities are endless.
You can go alone. You can go with a friend. You can go with a group. And you’ll learn something. Because life is about learning, whether you like it or not. Far better to go with a spirit of learning because you’re curious. You want to know. And this is the kind of learning that you can’t get in school. For sure it’s not learning by rote. It’s learning by putting yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to learn.
That situation may be very uncomfortable. Many experts suggest that you deliberately put yourself in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations in order to grow. When I was 18 I had to enlist in the British Army. I sure didn’t want to. But then I learned that I had certain capacities I had little clue about. And I gained confidence where before I was reluctant to step forward. You actually show up. You don’t take a back seat. And I was one of those that used to take a back seat in class, anything to avoid interaction with the teacher or anyone else. Today I wish that had been different.
But that was then, before the army. I remember coming back after completing military service, way better prepared for college because of what I’d gone through. It’s the kind of thing you can’t buy. It’s where life takes you. And what I love about that are the tangents.
The tangent is the discovery. Robert Frost called it “the road less traveled.” Where you decide to go, how you get there, what you do there, and with whom you interact, are all part of a magical process. And it’s usually the unexpected that makes the difference. The marketing agent you strike up a conversation with in a steaming, thermal tub in Reykjavik. The master vintner in a small winery in Keri Keri, in New Zealand’s North Island; and the Chambertin red he told you to put away for two years, and turned out to be one of the best wines you’d ever tasted. And the Colorado Outward Bound course, you weren’t sure what to do, and the instructor simply told you, “read the map, it’s all there.”
Who knows what tangents, side trips, discoveries are waiting for all of us. And what will we ourselves uncover?
One of my favorite quotes comes from astronomer Carl Sagan.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
So I repeat the question I posed at the beginning.
“Now what are you going to do?”