Last night I didn’t post because I was tired. I woke up in the morning with a dream that became this post.
So in my dreams lots of things shift, and move, and don’t really make sense, but there is usually a central theme and emotion that ties it all together. In the dream last night there was a central character who seemed a combination of myself, of some player on the Detroit Pistons, and Barney from How I Met Your Mother. The central character was a teenager who was unsure about what he was going to do after graduation, and the larger implied question, what should he do with his life.
In the dream Barney had a 3 choices things he could do with his life. Barney knew he liked rapping, when his friends were rapping lyrics into their phones and making songs out of it he always thought he could get into it with them because he knew he could be good at it. He never did. Also, Barney was also talented in debate. He had a lot of experience working with the debate coach and the debate team and had an impressive string of victories this year. Lastly, Barney knew he was good at volleyball. He had a natural aptitude for the sport because he was tall and athletic. He played on the school team, and playing volley ball was a big part of his identity at school, but he was not nationally ranked or recruited. (Also, why am I dreaming about volleyball? Why am I not dreaming about Barney’s academics? I don’t know either…)
Barney was hanging out with his friends one day and he gets a call from an uncle who talks him through all of the opportunities he faces and Barney hangs up the phone knowing exactly what his next step is. This uncle didn’t demand that he choose one thing, or even tell him what he would do.
They both walked through each of the situations together and whenever there was some possible decision the Uncle laid out what Barney could expect. The Uncle challenged Barney about considering being a rap artist when he hasn’t been willing to do the work for that. When there wasn’t enough information the Uncle would gather it, he calling colleges and asking about their debate team and their volleyball program. In the end it was clear that taking the opening on the college debate team was the best choice, as he put in the most effort towards that success, and future success seemed very realistic.
In the end what Barney needed was not an answer for what he should he do with his life, but someone who could take all the different options that he has in front of him and lay them out on a platter. Once Barney could see the possibilities for his next step, it made the choice easier. It avoided the larger question of what should he do with his life, but since that is a question that evolves over time for everyone, it may not be the best thing to expect a teenager to do before choosing something like what College to attend or what major to have. What might be good is to do what helped Barney. Look at areas where they have put in effort, avoid areas where they haven’t put in effort, and do the research to see what opportunities are actually available. Then have a conversation where you put it all on a platter, where you lay out all the reasonable outcomes and let the kid think about what choice makes the most sense