Non-traditional perspective: what I know that you don’t

I’m a non-traditional college student. In fact, I’ve never been a traditional college student. I began my college career when I was 26-years old at Western Nebraska Community College, in Scottsbluff; now, at 34, I’m continuing it at CSC.

What this means is if you’re a traditional college student in, or nearing, your early twenties, I have some perspective you likely don’t yet enjoy – perspective that gives me an advantage when it comes to the college experience. 

Although giving advice to younger generations is like trying to solve a math equation by banging your head against the wall, I’m going to do it anyway.

You may not be able to understand this yet, but the choices and actions you make today are going to have an impact on your life ten, fifteen, forty years down the road. You’ve already made one great decision in attending college; don’t sabotage that decision with other poor decisions.

Your generation gets hammered by others due to a perceived lack of an ability to work hard. I’ve defended those younger than I (I am, after all, technically a millennial) in the past, but honestly, it becomes more and more difficult to do so each day I spend at CSC. 

Maybe it’s your generation or it’s just what happens with people your age, but too often I see CSC students running away from difficulty, or treating a difficult task with an attitude of just doing enough to get by. 

The reality of difficult tasks, the ones that cause discomfort, is that those tasks are most likely attempting to give you the knowledge you need the most – the knowledge that is going to lift you above your peers when it’s time for you to move into your career.

The issue is that you’re young and you’re fleeing from discomfort because you want to be comfortable and enjoy your youth. But I can tell you with no doubt in my mind that you will never be as well-equipped to endure discomfort as you are right now. 

Your life in your early twenties is as flexible as it will ever be, and likely as uncomplicated as well.

But you’re young and you want to enjoy life to its fullest while you have your youth. I understand the root of that thought. I was in my early 20s once too. 

Let me share with you something not a lot of people will tell you when you’re as young as you are right now – your late 20s and early 30s are going to be more enjoyable than your early 20s could ever be. You’ll have more perspective, better relationships and you’ll appreciate far more about life than you do right now. You’ll also enjoy much more clarity regarding what’s important and what’s not. 

Back to your schoolwork; here’s my advice: work your butt off while here at CSC. Behave and act in a manner that is consistently positive toward the development of your successful future. Act in a way that would make your 30-year old self proud. 

Doing so is part of a very important behavior in life. If I don’t have your full attention yet, give it to me now and take to heart this statement – steadfastly, and consistently, invest in yourself during these years of your youth. 

If you want to have fun and take advantage of your new-found social surroundings, earn it by working hard, then playing hard. If you’re going to play hard, however, do so in a positive manner. 

What I mean is, things like DUI’s, getting into trouble with alcohol and drugs and making questionable relationship decisions are forms of having fun that don’t have a positive effect toward your future. Have your fun in a manner that addresses your need to relax and unwind once in a while, not in a manner which jeopardizes all the work you’re doing at CSC.

Leave things like producing questionable work just to meet due dates, wasting time on relationships with no future and doing dumb things to get praise from your social group where those things belong – in high school. If your college friends can’t understand you doing so, they’re not good friends. You’ll build better and more meaningful relationships with people that share your goals if you steadfastly invest in your future.

Putting in meaningful work now and making mistakes in noble pursuit of investing in yourself will pay off for you later in life. You’ll never be more immune to failure than you are now – but fail well. Failing while pursuing your goals is never a waste of time; failing because you spent too much time worried about a flawed relationship with Brad is. 

In a recent conversation with a close friend, in which we were reminiscing, my friend commented on how much fun he used to believe he was missing out on because instead of being out drinking with me, he was applying himself at college in pursuit of his nursing degree. 

Now in his 30s,  he has a great career, a beautiful wife, two beautiful young children, a beautiful house, and two BMWs in his garage that aren’t too shabby either. He now knows his younger self wasn’t missing out on anything. His younger self was building a future where he could enjoy more of life than his younger self could even imagine. 

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