I think life can be divided into four timeframes.
- The first section of timeframes is driven by the outside. You begin your life as a baby and grow up under the supervision of your parents (hopefully). During this time, you cannot do anything to influence your development. Your parents and your surroundings influence who you will become.
- Then comes the time when you slowly but surely can influence what happens in your life. This can be anywhere between 14 and 40 years of age, but will usually be around the age of 18. From here on, its a bit more finegrained. Usually, you choose which kind of job you will do for the rest of your life. You invest at least 1.5 years and maybe upto 10 years into that area of life – and it defines the next timeframe: work.
- This worktime-section is the third timeframe. I guess you’ll be in this section for about 35-40 years if everything works out fine. Within this time, you’ll become an expert in your field and maybe climb the ladder to learn new things when/if you get bored with the old work. Or maybe you just do one thing till this timeframe is up. This is the longest timeframe in your life, and it will shape your mind and body, most often for the worse if you don’t watch it closely.
- Then you’re old and retire. This is the part, where you’re expected to do nothing anymore, as your mind is too slow and your body too broken to get anything meaningful done. If you were lucky and your body still works fine and your mind isn’t shrouded by some mental illness or because your brain took damage in a stroke or accident, you might even be enjoying this episode for some decades, as you get your returns for your work and can do whatever you enjoy.
Now for the message of this post: the timeframe where you choose what your life will be like – timeframe no. 2 – is the most important timeframe of everyone’s life (that they can influence). No matter if it’s 1.5 years or 10 years – it’s well invested time considering that you’ll spend approximately one thirds of your awake-time in your work-life from now on and that this profession you chose will either keep your brain and body intact or maybe deaden your mind and break your body which in turn will be deciding when your turn old. You don’t even need to think about the monetary concequences here as money doesn’t define happiness.
The point is, that pupils in school need to understand the graveness of the time that follows. If you need to learn one single thing in school, then it should be that the post-school education will be the most defining factor of your life, that you have the power to influence yourself. (And that your life is pretty long and doesn’t end at the age of 30.) If anything bad happens during your childhood, you can’t do much, but if you pick the easy path and don’t learn a profession after school, you fucked up your whole life all by yourself.
Some few years define a lifetime. Don’t switch to No. 3 before you’re ready.