I was amazed to hear my 17 years old nephew asking me what he will do during summer holidays. Last week, thanks to a friend, I reserved him an internship, but I remain impressed by his extreme curiosity, that reminds me a few years earlier, the 3 trainees I mentored when I was a junior consultant in strategies in a consulting firm.
The youngest was his age, with the same enthusiasm, and a beginning of anxiety about dream’s fulfilment. In an environment where too little credit is given to the youngest people in companies, I had the chance to meet a manager who believed enough in me to entrust these young people to me. From that experience, I fell myself as trainee as them, since they came from 3 different places: Germany, Tunisia and Cameroon.
Beyond ensuring their supervision, my only certainty then was that they are hence questioning the meaning they would fill their lives with, and awaiting answers. I wonder if I ever answer accurately; they might tell me one day. But today, my own life’s experiences helping, I think I can give some advices to my little nephew.
1. You will not have all the answers now
My first answer is that you will not have all the answers at 17 years old, and no one will ever bring it all at a time. Things will become clearer as you move forward. Take time and patience to discover step by step, keeping each of your questions in a secret corner of your mind. One day, they will become clearer.
2. Experience what you like to find out who you are
Games hide greatest geniuses of humankind; recreation is the den of the greatest creativity. So if you feel like playing basketball, do not always repress it under the excuse of having “more useful” things to do. The magic of the tender age is to act without asking too many questions. And that’s how you find out who you are, what you love, and later, what makes you really happy.
3. Do not wait to be up to the college or out of it
The future begins now and here. You wonder about it because you are already drawing up your adult self. Then, go deep inside and ask yourself what you like. Look around you; people you admire, what are they up to? You will have a beginning of answer. And within a year, before leaving high school, it will be a little clearer.
4. The college is just a step forward, not a goal
College is not an end, but a very important step in the journey that will lead you to your purpose. As you go to college, be careful making friends, integrating networks, choosing internships. You are likely to become who you spend the most of your time with, and what you spend the most of your time doing. Be open to others, make smart choices, and remember today’s decisions will reoccur throughout your lifetime.
5. You may have more than one role model
At this age, you seek breakthroughs. Between parents, high school teachers and characters from your favourite movies, you’re embarrassed because you admire many people, each for a different reason. Make the most of each person you admire based on the value you give him. When your value system will be clearer for you, you will better identify your models. And remember that in absolute terms, your best model will be the ideal image you have of yourself as an accomplished person, not someone in particular.
6. Remain docile and respectful
You can go cheeky when you realize that you are almost kicking off the college, which implies a kind of independence because you will have a little more maturity, maybe leave the family home. Stay obedient, and respectful. True maturity is recognized by the ability to listen to others with respect and kindness, and even your ability to advise your juniors. Keep those values, otherwise you will keep the timeless image of an upstart.
7. Have fun and stay carefree
You still can have fun without worrying too much about future. You do not have the weight of the world or a family on your shoulders yet, so take advantage! And when adulthood arises, be a responsible adult, without regretting a wasted teenager. Naivety is one of the most beautiful gifts you will inherit from your tender age; the more carefree you are, the less fears you will have and the more you will dare.