Discovering the world for teens

The first thing you need to find is yourself.

Most people don't do enough looking inward. They remain a mystery to themselves, and then wonder why they feel left out of their own lives, machines performing a task with no personal content.

They're right. They no longer have a role in what they do, as people. It's the most common single source of personal dissatisfaction in the workplace, in careers, and in life generally.

The main reason is lack of self-understanding.

People aren't simple things.

Nor are their lives, and the effects their lives have on them.

Some people start off as complicated individuals, but it's the teen years where the complexity really starts to function.

These years can become a process like casting a statue. People can be stuck in the mold at age 17. Future options are shut down by a course of action where other opportunities were ignored, or not understood at the time.

Statues aren't very mobile things. They can't change, either, because they're inflexible. Making a statue out of yourself might have worked once, but in the modern society, it's not a realistic approach to the rest of your life.

To find yourself, you need to be able to think of yourself as the person you want to be, rather than just solely as a product of a career.

It's a bit simplistic to just describe yourself as what you do for a living.

The old hack phrase My Job Is Who I Am is way out of date. In a world where people multitask every minute, have different income streams, and widely varied interests, it's a bit ridiculous.

Also hopelessly passe is the theory that people live in self-created ruts based on careers or work. Most people try to avoid that. It's risky, because the workplace is a much more volatile thing, and change is much more frequent.

Dependency on a job or a single income stream is also long gone as a strategy. It's risky, and life can be expensive, particularly for people starting out. So the job is no longer the only goal. The career is now a vehicle, not an institution.

There's a bit of self assessment required, and it has to be able to live with the personal situation.

You can see that there's a few elements in this equation.

This is where you need to learn to fly, to get where you want to go.

The beaten path only goes so far.

These elements are the things that have to be put into good working order before you can get moving effectively.

You also need to be able to fix these things when they go wrong.

The one absolute certainty is that there are no absolute certainties.

Another very strong probability is that your ideas and priorities will change, perhaps drastically.

It does happen. People do degrees, then decide they don't want anything to do with that career.

Don't do that, if you can help it. Be objective, and make sure you can stay objective about how you handle your moves.

In the jungle, you will have to create your own map. It's a basic need. There are millions of roads, leading anywhere, but only a few of them will take you where you want to go. Reading a map properly means knowing what you're looking at. Each of these elements is both separate, and a part of the whole picture.

As you can also see, the guy reading the map has plenty of places, but they aren't where he/she's going to be in 20 years. Even if he/she doesn't move, the world will have moved. Nothing is static.

This is also where you bump into the jungle.

The threats may not be well defined, but your instincts will wake up pretty fast. As a kid, you were relatively immune to this stuff, but as a teenager, you're not.

The big risks are usually people. You can have native guides who take you where they think you should go, and some who are just plain misleading. Some of the jungle's wild animals are people who are natural rip-off artists. They can deprive you of time, money, and information. You can't afford that, even if you're well supplied.

Then there's a healthy supply of people with outdated information. They're reading from maps they drew for themselves 20 years ago. There's plenty of these, and it's because the world changed around them and they didn't notice.

The real, raw, jungle is the social environment. Crime, drugs, alcohol, and conflicts with other people are dangerous. The human nuisances who are easily as bad as malarial mosquitoes are another chronic problem, and sometimes a serious distraction from your explorations.

All of these things are health hazards. They make survival that much more difficult, in what really can be considered a hostile environment.

The trick is to have somewhere to go, and some reserve resources, to get out of situations where things are getting nasty.

The name of the game is survival. If you can't beat up a charging elephant with your bare hands, get out of its way.

You have to be in the game to win it.

For some strange reason, most people take one look at the jungle, and decide they'd rather be someplace else, and fast.

Most of the time, your survival instincts will be giving you very good advice. If they say Run, start running. Survival instincts don't take No for an answer. The jungle is an extremely dangerous place, and the expression Get Me The Hell Out Of This Mess has quite a few reasons for its existence.

(No sermonizing intended, these dangerous things the jungle throws at you on a daily basis are more trouble than they're worth, and they can use up years of your life. Anything that starts adding costs, risks, dangers, worries and problems to your life is well worth avoiding. People get a lot of hard life experience in their teens, and many would say they'd rather they never had it.)

So now you've got two pictures, one very complicated, the other one a sort of census of things and people to avoid.

That, believe it or not, is the information most people are given to organize their lives with.

Looks efficient, doesn't it? It's amazing the human race is still alive.

Let's say that all this useful information has left you with some vague idea about staying alive and doing the things you want to do.

Some navigational information will help here:

This is still about you becoming who you want to be.

That's the direction.

Your most reliable asset is yourself.

That's also your primary reference point, it's where you're navigating from, and is always going to be.

So- Who are you?

You're a person with interests, ideas, skills, talents, hopes, and getting a few hints of who and what you want to be. You do have your own opinions, and personal tastes.

You share some of your situations with others, but you're very much your own person. Nobody else does your crying for you, or experiences your down in the dumps moments for you.

That individuality is the key. It's your sense of who you are.

It's also a sense of direction.

Think about where you want to be in 20 years, and what you really want to achieve.

Write it down, see if it makes sense:

It's not difficult: Have a look at this, for a straightforward approach:

Reasonable, for a person who likes art and writing?

OK, there you have it. This person has built in their own character, preferences, talents, and love of their work into 12 words.

You can tell who and what they want to be with one look. It's an honest appraisal of their hopes, dreams and ideas, using their talents and skills. It's most of the first picture.

You don't need seminars on this stuff.

You need to be able to think clearly.