LinkedIn: If I Were 22: Do Whatever You Want!
I’m not sure how I feel about reaching an age at which I might be asked “If I were 22?” Maybe that’s just the way I took it. The question seems like a milestone. I’ll be 47 this year. I wonder how I would have felt if someone told me that I’d be asked this question 25 years in the future. I think I would have told them what they could do with their question.
If I were 22 again and had the opportunity to know what I know now I would turn it down. I would tell whoever is offering me this vision of the future, this accumulated knowledge, I would tell them to keep it, or shove it or just take it with them when they left. Good or bad, that future is and was mine. I didn’t know what I was doing then and that was the point. I had nothing to lose but a little time; time that was probably meant to be lost in just the way I lost it.
I don’t know you. The email I received inviting me to comment on this theme included a question about what advice I might offer people who are 22 now, ostensibly recent graduates, entering into this new phase of their lives. Look at us. I don’t mean me but whoever you would choose. That’s my advice. Don’t listen. Just look. We all joke, still — What do you want to be when you grow up? We’re never growing up. I still want to be a race car driver.
I have an uncle who is around 70 and still works hard 6 days a week. He and my aunt own a very popular deli and cafe and have a real passion for what they do. My uncle is a man of passions. Before the cafe, he did masterful restoration work on some of the older houses in their town (including his own 20 year work-in-progress). Before that he owned a trucking company. He had a tug boat. He was a very successful artist in Los Angeles for a while, doing intricate glass etching work among other things. He was a hippie, a farmer, an owner and restorer of interesting cars, and a lot of other things over the years – all with one common denominator: Passion. Passion to the point of exhausting co-workers and peers, but also passion that revealed itself in all of his work, regardless of medium. I envy him, not for his passion, because I have my own, but for his courage in doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it, and doing it well. I know they are planning to sell the cafe, and if I ask my uncle what he wants to do next I have no doubt he’ll proffer a list of 5-10 projects that he’s been thinking about.
My life, like anyone’s, is different. Not all of the jobs I’ve had are the ones I imagined when I was 22. Who imagines being an executive recruiter? That doesn’t mean I haven’t done my job with passion, or that I haven’t figured out how to use it to forward my other aspirations, I have and I’m still discovering new goals to pursue. I recently published a book.
Passion and pursuit; these are things that not only foment quality but also create energy and focus. Be 22. Do whatever you want. Don’t listen to anybody. Nobody my age knows anything about your world anyways. Whatever you do though, just try to do it well, whether you choose it or it chooses you. And dream. Dream about what you want to be when you grow up. Take your time. There’s no rush.
Kurt Schmidt is the author of “Modern Job Search” and the President and Owner of Capto Systems, an executive search firm focused on supply chain and strategic sourcing jobs in manufacturing and energy. He’s also an aspiring photographer and traveler.