Because working out what you want to do after highschool can be terrifying.
Life straight out of highschool is a challenging step for everyone. We all remember what it felt like. We all watched our siblings go through it. Some of us are watching our kids go through it now, or waiting with baited breath for them to finish school and begin the transition.
With so many possible careers nowadays, expecting teens with no life experience to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives over a 12 month period is a daunting task to say the least. Most will fail to do this, and feel terribly guilty and anxious as a result. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate through this confusion, and one of them is a clear, entertaining, and life affirming book; Finding Your Path: A Guide to Life and Happiness After School.
Written by Amba Brown, who holds an honours in psychology, majoring in positive psychology, the book offers a step-by-step guide for young people on how to sift through the waters of confusion and find the bliss they are longing for after 13 years of stringent study. Chapter by chapter, it outlines the various benefits of work, study and travel, so students can actively contemplate their options and make informed decisions.
Although I left school aeons ago, I still remember the pressure and weight of feeling like I needed to know what I was going to do for the rest of my life. A pressure so great that many of my peers ended up diving into careers and courses of study half-heartedly, feeling the expectation they needed to knuckle down immediately.
But Brown’s handbook for young adults bypasses this in its opening chapters, instead focusing on self-discovery and travel. Rather than pushing teens straight into more study, or the stressful workforce, Brown has an attitude of exploring the world as a helpful tool to allow development as a human being. As such, the general idea is that young people will enter college or start a job with greater calm, composure, and life experience to draw from.
As someone who jumped straight from school into three back-to-back degrees, I really wish someone had told me taking time out was an option, a feeling I’m sure many parents can relate to.
The style of the book is gentle and straight to the point. It doesn’t wax philosophical about a ludicrous number of specific paths you can take after finishing school. Rather, Brown seeks to inspire a mentality in young people to figure that out for themselves over time, identifies with the stressful elements they face, and supports them positively in making decisions for the future.
The overall tone is very encouraging. Instead of reminding school leavers of what they’ll miss out on if they don’t go straight on to higher education, Brown outlines the benefits of doing so, and what they will gain in both the short and long term. However, she doesn’t leave those who have no interest in the tumultuous world of college hanging. She paints going straight into the workforce as both challenging and fulfilling, without a hint of the guilt-tripping young people face when caught at the crossroads of a career or further study.
The subtle underlying message of mindfulness is also particularly valuable. The latest generation of school leavers have been raised during the blossoming age of instant communication and smartphone addiction. As such, everything in their world is fast, and if it isn’t, there’s usually something wrong with it. This, coupled with the inherent pressures of leaving school, leaves nothing but a perpetually anxious mindset.
Brown eliminates this by bringing goal setting back to basics. She breaks it down, sets up a guide for productivity in an easy format, and infuses the emphasis on mindfulness with inspirational quotes and real-life examples. Einstein, Beethoven, and Coco Chanel (among others) all get a mention.
I found reading this book as a career driven adult valuable, as it reminded me of the process I have undergone to get where I am. If I’d had Brown’s book as a teen, I would have found it a lot easier. I’m sure any parent reading this book would feel similarly, and see the worth of presenting it to their teenagers, whether still at school or just finishing. In short, Amba Brown has written a truly excellent, wholly inspirational guide to happiness in a non-judgmental voice young people cannot help but relate to. So if you only give your young adult children one present this Christmas, make it this book.