Life-Paths Walked Sideways

(And That’s A Good Thing)

Okay. We’ll try to refrain from cliches you’ve all heard before like: “You don’t need to compare yourself to others!”

You also don’t need a lump of mayonnaise with your fried potatoes. But you’ll probably do it anyway.

Rather, what we aim to achieve here is our slip of approval for straying from the traditional course of life. To clarify, the one that society has gradually, gently (or not so gently) hammered into us.

Modern generations have made the choice to say no to the age old, status quo timeline (for instance, when to settle on a career) and to say yes to defining their own way. An enormous departure from previous generations who have had little choice in the matter or else be condemned as an outcast. A no good, lazy outcast.

By no means are we asserting that societal pressure no longer exists. It does, and for some more than others. But it’s an apparent trend that this grip is loosening. This can be seen in the increasing number of students electing to start college (or at least start a new degree) later in life. According to this article, there has been a 35% increase of students enrolled in secondary education aged 25 to 34 between 2001 and 2015 and is projected to increase by 11% between 2015–2026.

Falling into a career or opting to study later in life in areas that are complementary to you and your talents should absolutely not be a source of shame. On the contrary, it affords personal development and competitive advantages that could otherwise not be attained had you rushed into your career.

“A college degree used to slot you into a 40-year career. Now it’s just an entry-level point to your first job,” says Guy Berger, the LinkedIn economist who analyzed the career trajectories of 3 million college graduates. And starting points are different for everyone.

For example, starting your career when you’re older can:

1) Give you the time and opportunity for character growth and a true understanding of what you truly want. Young people who haven’t taken the time to do that [find a career they enjoy], to see the world and try to figure out their place in it, are more likely than not to embark on careers that aren’t right for them.”

2) Offer you the wisdom, experience and maturity of age that your younger coeds may not possess.

3) Allow you to be more productive and invested in your work. Because you may have taken on jobs out of necessity rather than “of your choosing”, you appreciate your career more.

4) Make you feel less daunted in expressing yourself. The more mature you are the less concerned you are with judgment from others and could be more likely to contribute your opinions or otherwise.

If you’re still unconvinced, there are a plethora of individuals who found success and satisfaction at a later period of their lives. Take Vera Wang, who was a figure skater before embarking on fashion design at 40-years-old. Bezos didn’t found Amazon until he was 31, and look at that guy! They only highlight that following one conventional cycle is not a compulsory option.

Now, had you come into your own earlier in life and are very satisfied then we applaud you. But for those of you who still feel a little lost and are still finding your way or are nearly on their way, rest assured that you can take that are available to you.

Here is an info-graphic illustrating a few possibilities for your exploration.

Now that you’ve seen there’s a world of ways you can take to find a career that matters to you. While scrutiny is still persistent, you can push boundaries and it doesn’t mean that doing things a little radically can result in achieving the same success.

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