In the journey to adulthood there are choices to be made – Commercial Appeal

A few years ago when my oldest child was graduating from high school, I was asked to give the baccalaureate talk for the graduating class.

I thought hard. What words of advice do I want to share with these young adults as they begin their journeys into adulthood? Being in the mother’s womb for nine months was warm and comfortable as food and shelter was provided. Being in school for 12 years was secure and reassuring as we, the parents and guardians, held their hands tight through a guided path. But now how will the journey be going forward?

Looking back at my own life I realized that becoming an adult was a set of choices much like in Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken. ” It begins with the words “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” In my life, I clearly remember, how my choices were both a milestone and an inflection point — something which transformed me to who I am and where I am today.

I told the young adults that I believe there are four inflections points and that these are choices that young adults make. I call them the 4 C’s in the Journey to Adulthood.

The first choice is College. Not everyone may choose to go to college but nearly 70 percent of high school students in America do. And, in today’s competitive world a two- or a four-year college or technical training is a must.

The second choice, I told the graduates, is Career. You may choose to have a vocation such as an electrician, plumber, lawyer, teacher or doctor, but choose wisely. Your career is where you will spend at least 40 hours a week, over 2,000 hours a year. So make sure you enjoy your choice of work.

The third choice in our journey to adulthood is a Companion. Not everyone has to choose a life-partner but a majority of people do. He or she is someone we will choose to spend the remaining 16 hours a day with and share our daily ups and downs and a lifetime of love and sorrow.

 It’s funny how these life-altering choices come every four years. College for most begins at age 18, career often starts at age 22, and the mean age of marriage in the United States is about 26 years.

The fourth and final choice in the journey to adulthood is: City. Where will we call home? Will we choose to settle in the city of our birth or a far-away place, and then come back for Thanksgiving and vacations?

Now mind you, I said, we are not locked into these life-defining choices. Yes, we can transfer among colleges, and we can change our career. Yes, we can change our city and our spouses too. (By the way, that age of 26, was the average age of the first marriage.)

Many 17-year-olds may roll their eyes and think that all these choices are too far in the future. But every parent or teacher will tell you that it feels as if they made the choices yesterday.

I still remember the moment I made these four life-changing choices: the morning I chose to go to Boston University, the afternoon I was accepted to medical school, the evening I proposed to my wife and the day I purchased my ticket for Memphis.

Years from now the young adults will remember their choices, as told by Robert Frost in the ending to his poem. “I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood…”

The four choices we made about college, career, companion and city.

Source: Commercial Appeal

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