Advice from Ben

After publishing “valuable advice” last week, I decided to ask my Facebook friends about the valuable advice that they have received in the past. I was overwhelmed by how much good advice my friends wanted to share! Some of it is so good. . .and so relevant to this blog. . .that I asked permission to use their advice/comments/stories here. The first installment comes from Ben Matthews, my son-in-law’s cousin, who is about to become a father. There’s more than one piece of advice here, but it’s all good and thoughtful and could be very useful to you, both now and in the future.

Ben wrote: “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t. Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.”

When I was 22, I was a stay-at-home mom who was going to college at night. At that point, I certainly never dreamed that some day I would be a college professor. I thought maybe I’d become a high school English teacher or a librarian, but I could never have imagined the careers(s) that I’ve had. I was fortunate that I had the support of a husband who encouraged me to finish my bachelor’s degree, but at that point in my life my only “career goal” was finishing that degree! So Ben is right: you might not have any idea what you’re going to do with your life, and even if you think you do, it will probably turn out to be wrong (or, at best, only half right!). So give yourself some breathing room while you keep studying, and planning, and working, and trying new things, and eventually you’ll figure out what your life is going to look like.