We all remember that second grade conversation with our teachers. The one where you're told that you can be anything you want to be, just as long as you put your mind to it. Some kids wanted to be doctors and detectives, but most wanted to be athletes or superheroes. As for me, I had no idea what I wanted to be. Though, becoming a superhero was tempting.
Looking back, I wonder, was it all a lie? Think about it; most people don’t grow up doing what they dreamed they would when asked the pivotal question, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" Many people have jobs that are so awful that they scheduled bathroom breaks: two times in the morning and three in the afternoon. Who wants to live like this? No one, yet here we are: at a place we didn’t plan. I guess, we weren’t lied to on purpose. But we were lied to, nonetheless.
Where exactly did it all go wrong? Let’s start at the very beginning, at the educational level. Whether it is a primary school, secondary school, or college, we are not getting a fair deal. Instead of learning critical life skills on how to manage money, how to negotiate, how to solve everyday problems, how to identify and utilize our natural talents, or how to communicate, kids are mostly taught to memorize information. This is helpful to learn, but not at the cost of not learning critical life skills. Many people put these “life” skills on the onus of the parents to teach their kids, but not all parents are qualified to teach these lessons, and many assume that school is “enough learning.”
For now, let's put aside the fact that our education system is failing us. What happens once we graduate? Graduation from college does not come with a job. It can come with a mound of student loan debt. The average borrower in the college class of 2018 is expected to carry more than $35,000 in student loan debt, which may be accompanied by growing credit card debt, as well as an auto loan and maybe even a mortgage. In an ideal world, of course, the education system would be free and available to all. However, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a Darwinian world; in the world that is ruled by the "Survival of the fittest."
Then there's the "Permission Paradox." The Permission Paradox is one of the great Catch-22s in business. “You can’t get the job without experience, and you can’t get the experience without the job.” Being able to overcome this challenge is predominant to successfully launching your career or can be the difference between having enough money to pay your monthly bills and having to borrow money from your friends. This phenomenon can be frustrating for anyone, especially when you know you can be great at this job and yet you don’t have the chance to show it. It's one of those cosmic jokes.
Ask a class of kids today what they want to do when they grow up and you'll get a lot of the same answers. They are programmed to believe that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up; without being given necessary ability, knowledge or skill to succeed. As adults, we know the truth. The system is flawed and perhaps even “rigged” in certain important ways. The question now is whether we are doomed to repeat the past no matter what, or will we be able to overcome this status quo?