I’m spending this Saturday giving Male Mode Me a deserved rest — and, by obvious extension, yours truly — after he had a somewhat draining week professionally. How draining, you ask? Well, it wasn’t so much physically draining as it was mentally. Let me explain by following up to my previous post recounting my satisfying yet not entirely enjoyable day of volunteering at a youth business event on Wednesday, which you can read about here if you haven’t done so already. During and after my “mentoring” of my assigned team in their business simulation (note the quote marks as they ran circles around me in terms of knowing how to manage a business), several thoughts ran through my mind: For one, unlike how I was at their age (or even now in my adulthood), these students are clearly bright and talented, and it’s for certain that their skills have been and continue to be molded and nurtured by their teachers and other educators who clearly want their students to succeed.
Hopefully, there are other key figures in these students’ lives ready and willing to nurture their talents, or at least provide the right paths to foster that nurturing and refining. Like, say, their parents. When I was growing up, my mom and stepfather seemed more like the types of parents who couldn’t wait for their kids to graduate and leave home, meaning there would be one less mouth to eat them out of house of home. That’s not to say they didn’t want the best for me; it’s just that they were so preoccupied in keeping food on our table and a roof over our heads. And when they did ask me that age-old question — you know, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” — I never had dreams of what I wanted to do in adulthood, just a desire to not get failing grades in school, all to keep Mom and Dad happy for the moment. (Some dream, huh?) Hopefully, the kids I saw this week do have dreams of what they want to be once they reach adulthood, and that their Moms or Dads not only recognize and nurture it but also communicate their guidance to them.
Speaking of guidance, let’s hope these kids also have an effective school guidance counselor in their corner. When I mean “counselor,” I’m obviously not talking about a counselor who will just have the kid sit on a couch and ask them, “So, how are you feeling today?” Rather, it’s the school guidance counselor who will recognize or at least learn about a student’s talents and dreams and recommend to them the right options for them. Sadly, the least effective guidance is nothing more than handing the student a brochure and saying, “Get outta here, I’m busy.” Hopefully, those types of guidance counselors are few and far between, and that the kids from this week have counselors that say such things as “How about taking this class next semester?” or “How about taking this class during summer vacation?” or especially “This school might be a good fit for you after you graduate.” Yes, the kids must make the decisions themselves and think long and hard about their options before doing so, but getting good guidance is an important first step.
Two other personal hopes I have for the children of our future: One, I hope their immediate future is a safe one. No sooner had we finished our business competition on Wednesday afternoon came the news of that horrific incident at a high school in South Florida. I won’t get into the ensuing arguments that have followed the incident. What I will bring up is seeing and hearing the anguish and grief in the faces and voices of the survivors, especially the students. Being witness to that grief will shake them for years to come. And I can’t help but think that their grief could stunt whatever self-confidence and hope they have in their futures. Hopefully, over time, that grief will subside and that self-confidence will bounce back with the help of a counselor — no, not the one with the class lists, but the one who will sincerely ask, “So, how are you feeling today?”
My other personal hope for the students I encountered this week is that, once they reach adulthood and get into the working world, they do not become discouraged by any sorts of setbacks. This belief became evident for me just a day after the event, when our team received one of those dreaded “organizational announcements” that pop up: One of our teammates was “no longer employed” at our company. I can’t say for sure how the rest of our team reacted (they’re either in a separate office from mine or they work at home), but the news stunned me for sure. This person shared worked on many of the same tasks I, and we backed each other up on those we don’t routinely care for. And while I’m not privy to the cause for her departure (it could have been failure to meet production goals for all I know), I can’t help but think that I could have been in her shoes on Thursday. Indeed, I have been in situations where I suddenly lost my job, including the job I had before I moved to Madison. (I lost that job on the 15th of May, and this past Thursday was the 15th; is there any wonder why I get a bit uneasy at work on or around the 15th of any month?)
When those such as the students I encountered this week will enter the working world, it’s for certain that they will face their fair share of setbacks: They will make small errors. They will make big mistakes. They will make the wrong calculations. They will miss production goals. They will, in all likelihood, be forced to look for new employment at least once in their lives (as was proven on my team at work this week). They may even become disillusioned in their chosen line of work and desire a career change. But if they get good advice, hear of leads from good connections, make good decisions, and above all have confidence in themselves and their skills, they will be able to overcome the setbacks and the negativity and enjoy a long, fruitful, and happy career. Here’s hoping that all of their dreams will come to fruition.