I was recently asked to submit a proposal to offer my wisdom to a group of high-performing high schoolers visiting the US from countries throughout Latin America. I must admit I have been intimidated by the opportunity, and a bit unsure what I want to speak about.
Because there’s so much!
I’ve been reflecting back on my own high school years to really re-presence myself to who I was then and what I would have benefited from knowing at that stage of my life. These life lessons are also present to me as my oldest niece is getting ready to begin applying for college as well.
Looking back, I’ve realized that I didn’t really know myself at 16, 17, and 18 years old. I was busy going with the status quo, trying to get straight A’s, trying to be the best I could be in all areas of my life, and to be totally honest, it was exhausting.
I can recall countless sleepless nights finishing papers (in high school), exhausting myself with extracurriculars, and playing sports, that we all knew I wasn’t good at. 😉
And for what?!
To what end, I now ask myself? When I think back about it now, it was likely because I was trying to fill my own imagined expectations that others had of me.
Many friends I know would have been trying to meet their parents’ or someone else’s expectations of them, but no, not me, I was always my own worst offender in that regard.
And the irony of this is that that time of my life extended far beyond high school. The people pleaser archetype has been ingrained deeply into the fabric of who I am.
I’ve been trying to meet my own imagined expectations for myself for a long time. I’m certain my choosing of one of my college majors in economics, was the “responsible” choice. But, for what?!
As much as I love numbers and have always loved advising people about their money, we all know that I was never an economist. Even when I worked for the federal government as a Senior Economist, I was still never an economist.
I have always been a people person. And while I certainly love systems, organization and spreadsheets (which thankfully are a huge contribution to growing my business), facts and figures go in one ear and out the other with me, but people, I always remember people.
I’m certain I would’ve been much better off had I majored in psychology back as an undergrad. I even recall I was fascinated by the subject and loved my intro class. But nope, I double majored in Economics and Latin American studies instead.
Don’t get me wrong, that double major brought me far and I’m grateful for some of the opportunities that it made possible for me.
But still, it was a decision I made based on what major I thought I should major in vs. one that brought me joy.
And therein lies the key.
When we make choices that aren’t in alignment with our core values but rather are in alignment with our own external expectations, it’s likely we’ll have to pivot or redirect later in life when we have a better gauge of our own core values.
I have no doubt that that moment for me didn’t happen until my mid to late 20s when I started deeply questioning my career trajectory. I started questioning what I was doing with my life, and how much longer I was willing to live a life that wasn’t in alignment with who I was.
In my work as a coach, this is some of the most deeply impactful work I do with clients. Helping them to see where they’re making choices that aren’t in alignment with their core values or the life they want to live.
Could this be you?
Start getting curious about where you make choices from? Are you trying to meet other people’s expectations of you, are you trying to make the right choice?
My single biggest piece of advice to graduates:
Get comfortable with who you are. Get comfortable with your core values, These two choices will guide you through all of life’s decisions and keep you in good company. This is better than any graduation gift you could receive.
To courageously going forth,
P.S. Do you know a recent grad? Forward this newsletter on to them. You never know what sort of pivot it could prompt now.
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