As we have begun the second semester of this school year, I have found myself engaged in many conversations with some current seniors about their plans after high school. I find it fascinating to hear the various fields and professions students want to pursue after high school. During these conversations, I have started asking the students why they want to invest their life in that specific field. The responses to this question have been interesting.
Responses to the “why” question have basically fallen to two categories. One side answered with a chance to live a life pursuing passions, helping others, and service. The other was much more simplistic…I am pursuing this field because I believe it will be lucrative.
These conversations have made me think: What is the cost of what you really want from life? Does it cost money or does it cost an investment of yourself in others? I believe happiness (your everyday, run-of-the-mill, I am happy) is about a “me” attitude, and that can easily be found in chasing fleeting moments of joy. Where, fulfillment comes from a “serving others” attitude, which is a much harder place to invest your time because the payoff is rarely instant, and more often than not less than lucrative. Happiness based on money or status, leads to chasing possessions and titles. The problem is once we get there the outcome is somewhat empty, leading us to chase something else in a continued search to fill the void. Placing our joy in service is a gift that keeps on giving, it’s leaving this world a better place as it keeps on giving far beyond our reach. I am not saying that making money is bad, or is the cause of an unfulfilled life, but if your only goal is to be wealthy…well, I hope you find a way to take it with you when you are gone. This idea reminds me of a line from the movie “Bucket List.”
“It’s difficult to understand the sum of a person’s life… Some people would tell you it’s measured by the ones left behind, some believe it can be measured in faith, some say by love, other folks say life has no meaning at all… Me, I believe you measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you…”
I believe what Morgan Freeman’s character is trying to tell us is to invest in others. Live a life that pours life into others souls and makes them better. Live a life that is an example to others. Does what you really want out of life have a monetary value or does it just cost you time, dedication, and service? As Kid President says, ”we need to live in a world with fewer selfies and more otherpeoplies.”
The most passionate, diligent, conscientious people I know do their daily work because they are part of something larger than themselves. They get up everyday because of something they represent and they are committed to fulfilling a dream. They are driven by serving others above themselves, and they understand the legacy they leave has nothing to do with possessions and material things.
So the question is: Are you willing to trade a fulfilling profession, and ultimately a fulfilling life, for possessions?
I hope as this year’s seniors make their final high school choices and move onto the next phase of their lives, they choose to live a life by which other people will measure their lives. And, if this happens more often than not, our work as educators was a job well done. And maybe, just maybe, the students who leave our building will come back one day in the future to thank you. And if you are exemplifying a life of fulfillment they might say that because of your example, their life is better!
Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!