Is your daughter unsure what she wants to do with her life?
“What are you going to do when you leave school?” can incite quite a stressful response for some young people.
But for the ones who have a definite answer – I’d actually be more worried.
Jumping into a whole career plan with no exposure to what that lifestyle actually involves is DANGEROUS.
I did a whole Commerce degree with the plan to be an investment banker before I even considered the reality of work only being available in big cities, corporate offices, and valuing shares all day.
The number one thing all teenagers need to do when they leave school is – GET LOST!!!
Spend some time not knowing – regardless of how uncomfortable that may make them feel.
And I’m definitely not saying to do nothing. Explore, experiment, ask questions. If they want to be an investment banker – chat to someone actually in that role and discover what it’s like. Go on work experience in fields they may be interested in. Volunteer. Travel. Do stuff.
I’m not saying to get lost forever. But to test out all the options and after a decent amount of exploration they do need to commit to something.
There’s a dangerous school of thought that says there’s only one right answer. That your daughter, or son, or any of us have to make the ONE RIGHT CHOICE, and if they don’t make the ONE RIGHT CHOICE, their life will be doomed to failure.
I’ve ascribed to this dangerous belief in the past too. But now I realise that our purpose is to be completely ourselves, regardless of what arbitrary “role” we play. And our purpose is to be passionate and kind and loving and in service – which any of us can do as a cleaner, bus driver, teacher, doctor, artist or anything else.
Truth is, there are so many things your daughter is fabulous at. So many ways she could make her mark on the world - so so so so so many options. And this is where she may freeze. Too many options are not helpful at all.
This process of creatively exploring all of the possibilities, testing them out by talking to people or having trial experiences, and then deciding on which to follow is so helpful. And then the key is to look back and agonise forever about whether that final decision was the right one. Ha!!! That’s a joke by the way. A joke I stole from a fantastic book called “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett.
Actually I stole lots of these ideas I’m sharing from this book. Buy it, read it, share it with your daughter, do the activities together – it may change her life.
I’m 34 and I know for sure that being a social worker is what I want to be doing (and at the risk of contradicting myself, even what I’m here to do) but I still ended 9 years of study this year with a gnawing lost feeling. A feeling of “what am I going to do with my life?”
Luckily, someone I work with recommended me this book. I went through the exercises of creatively dreaming up possible divergent life paths for the next five to ten years. I then decided which one I liked best, organised to speak with others in the field doing what I want to be doing, and continued on my merry way.
But there’s another part to this picture. It’s that in starting something new you necessarily leave something behind. I’ve left behind 9 years of university study and 6 months of productive work with an organisation I love (The Rites of Passage Institute). I’ve gone from being overwhelmingly busy to having lots of time to reflect and consider my next move.
I like being busy. If you read last week’s blog you know I even determine my worth by how productive I am (although I’m learning not too).
And although I have a clear direction and long term goals, I need to give myself the time and space to let go of and grieve what has been before. I need to wait until I get a definite intuitive YES about the next action step rather than rushing head first into anything and everything just to feel good about being busy and “doing” and achieving. (This, by the way, has led me to commit to one month on country in Kununurra, WA to fully give myself time to connect and dream.)
I’m learning to honour the seasons of my life and give myself this space. I’m learning to connect with the seasons my own Irish tradition to recognise the beginning of winter (“Samhain” festivals being celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere this weekend).
And in this time of letting go, and grief, and welcoming winter – still know that the next phase always comes. There will be spring. You don’t have to rush and force and push for spring to come. You simply need to be with and celebrate the process.
Radiant Woman: A Mother Daughter Rite of Passage Retreat is designed to honour and recognise that your daughter is no longer a child anymore.
For both of you this needs to be grieved and celebrated.
She needs time out, a marker of this transitional stage, and space to reflect on what kind of person she wants to be, and what she dreams of for her life (we’ll even be doing some of the exercises from “Designing Your Life”).
You, also, will spend this time reflecting on who you are now as the mother to an adult, rather than a child, and how do you want your relationship with her to be, what do you dream of for your future?
I’m so excited to be sharing this experience again this year. I look forward to meeting you there.
Click HERE for more info and to book your place.