Wednesday, July 27, 2011
That there may be too many choices out there!!
We live in an era that offers a tantalizing smorgasbord of choices. My oldest son will commence Year 12 studies next year. We've been thumbing through job guide magazines, bamboozled by the sheer number of possible career paths a young person may take. In 2000 when he was in Reception, somebody remarked, "Some of the jobs these kids will finish up with haven't even been invented yet." I'm sure that's true.
Today's young people are being brought up to perceive the world as their oyster. We're peppered with messages to "MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE" from many sources, and we're quietly terrified that our dream job may be out there but we'll miss it due to ignorance. That was true for me in the '80s and even more so for Logan in the tweenies (which is what I call this decade). We want fulfilling work choices to give us the trappings of worldly success; great houses, impressive cars and the chance to travel abroad and indulge in upmarket recreational activities. The umbrella over all this is the overwhelming or obligatory desire to 'make a difference.'
Poor Logan is overwhelmed because he's 16 and doesn't really know what he wants to do. He's thinking that perhaps he'll start focusing toward a career in web design, just because he has to pick something, but the burning question that eats us all is, Will that be right for him?
I think back to nostalgic stories of the past when people never worried about finding fulfilling careers. Guys grew up knowing they would work on their fathers' farms and girls' hands would soon fill with keeping homes, vegetable gardens and children flourishing. They worked hard. They ate what they produced. They raised their families, attended church, trusted God and were thankful. The question, Is this the right thing for me to be doing with my life? didn't enter their minds because they had far fewer choices.
With Logan, I'm re-visiting the angst I went through in the late '80s and early '90s. Our minds are racing because we can't stand the thought of cutting off any options. If we choose "A" we feel the sting of not having "B", "C" or "D". As a result, every choice feels worse than no choice. And when we do settle on a plan, we end up with buyer's remorse, wondering if we're settling for second best. Therefore our freedom to pursue any path ends up feeling more like bondage than liberty*. I believe it's no coincidence that psychiatrists and counsellors are experiencing a boom that was never necessary in the olden days when simply getting through each day and keeping your family alive was a feat worthy of satisfaction.
I don't think there are any pat solutions to that depression brought on by the abundance of choices because it is now embedded so deeply in our culture and mindsets. I do think we can actively promote a more peaceful attitude if we remind ourselves each day to consciously choose gratitude for those most precious things we take for granted; the same things our ancestors couldn't help feeling grateful for because they had to work so much harder just to retain them. I'm talking, of course, about blessings such as food to eat, clothes to wear, cosy shelter, family and friends to love and encourage. I even have hot, running water straight to my taps and a computer to use (although you'll probably hear me complain that Adelaide tap water is too full of chlorine and my computer is too slow, because that's the way we of the 21st century are conditioned to think.)
Seriously, if we remind ourselves to be thankful for the basic privilege of life, we may be more content to follow our hearts, doing the jobs before us each day without worrying about whether we'd be more fulfilled doing something else.
Here's a link to a little video which highlights what I'm talking about. http://www.flickspire.com/m/iaaw/LifeIsLikeCoffee
* Some of the ideas in the paragraph are from "Just do Something" by Kevin DeYoung.