Grads, enjoy the journey and seek interests

June 27, 2009|By JOHN LEAGUE

This is a column for all of you high school graduates out there who don't really know what you want to do with your life.

My advice: Don't spend too much time worrying about it. You'll figure it out. And while it won't always be easy, it will most likely be interesting.

My son recently graduated from high school. If he and his friends were asked once, they were asked repeatedly variations of the same three questions: Where are you going to college? What are you going to study? What type of job are you in search of?

I began thinking about some of my own friends and acquaintances from the mid-1970s, and how we all struggled with the same questions.


Fact is, how many of us over the age of 45 are doing today exactly what we thought we'd be doing when we were graduating from high school, or college for that matter?

Here are what a handful of my high school and college classmates wanted to do, and what they're doing now.

o One's stated goal was to be an entrepreneur (marking the first time, at the age of 15, I'd ever heard that word as a career choice.) He wanted to make a ton of money. Upon graduation from college, he worked for a major retailer, then started a business. Several years later, he went to law school. He's now a lawyer.

o Another wanted to be a dentist. He now works for the federal government in Homeland Security.

o Another wanted to be a doctor. He now sells pharmaceuticals.

o Another wanted to be a pharmacist. He quit pharmacy school and has traveled the world working in quality control for several Fortune 500 electronics companies.

o There's the public relations specialist who left a good-paying job and now works at a marina feeding his passion for sailing.

o Another wanted to be a youth counselor. He's now a farmer.

o One wanted to be an investigative reporter. He now owns and operates several jewelry stores.

Several did stay in their chosen fields, sort of.

A friend of mine started in radio at the age of 16, and he's had a great career. He's had his own talk show for at least 10 years, and does other radio work in news and sports. He also dabbles in some TV and writes a newspaper column. He loves it as much today as he did 30-plus years ago. Maybe more.

Another won a Pulitzer Prize and is now a journalism professor in the desert southwest. Not exactly newspapers, but close enough.

I graduated from high school with no plans to go to college, yet I did. (Another story for another day.)

The first two years of college, I tried physical education, secondary education and business before I found my calling -- journalism. I was a second-semester sophomore at the time.

The turning point for me was this: I determined what I was passionate about -- at the time, it was sports and to a lesser degree, writing -- and went after it. ( I started in the business as a sports writer.) I figured if I found something I loved to do and got paid doing it, it wouldn't really be a job.

That was the smartest lesson I ever learned. Most of us need a little time and a little experience before we know what we really want. But that's OK. Perhaps doing things we don't like helps us to discover what we do like.

So, all you graduates, enjoy the journey. Don't be afraid to try new things or move on if they prove to be disappointing. And when you find that thing you love, go for it.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at

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