Just Stop and Think

Carmen Grillo

There is something to be said for ageing.

At best, it can give perspective. At worst it just takes some of the anxiety out of being young.  What anxiety? We’ve all felt it. Running around, checking the online job boards – it’s exhausting.

Luckily, some of the pressure has recently been taken off for me. Being a grad student definitely has its perks, the TA job being one of them. But just like everyone else, the summer held 1 month, 1 week of solid employment and around 3 other months of worried searching.

If you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents around, ask about their jobs some time. My grandparents, all being Italian emigrants, worked in grocery stores, designed missiles, owned markets, sold real-estate, built jukeboxes, and went to war. If you’re looking for the common thread in that list, the pre-meditated 20 year plan, you’re committing the error of the un-aged. It’s called trying too hard.

Going with the flow is a skill born of necessity.

Many of us university grads come from more or less comfortable fiscal backgrounds. For us, living tight means eating leftovers instead of going out. My grandparents never had that choice. Not that I’d know, but if having a family means anything, it must mean feeding your kids however you can. At least that’s what my parents tell me. And that need to put food on the table probably makes the choice of what jobs to look for a lot easier. There is work in kitchens and manufacturing. Many of us, me included, have at some time been arrogant enough to denigrate these. And why is that? First, a lot of us have the luxury of only feeding ourselves. Second, we’re trying too hard. The world is my oyster, and I want to slurp it all down. But oysters are expensive. So what differentiated my grandparents? They worked hard at the jobs they could get – and they weren’t picky.

The young spend a lot of time trying, and not much working hard.

We try for the big jobs, the fashionable look. But when push comes to shove, we don’t have much focus. This difference is what the old sometimes know and the young often forget. Being successful means just being what you are. Instead of burning yourself out to become more cultured, worldlier, more liberal, more connected, how about just shutting up and working hard at the stuff you’re already doing?

Build slowly. Maybe the young aren’t as comfortable in their own skins, and that’s why we make so much of an effort to transcend ourselves. Maybe those makeover shows are to blame. But really, you can’t ever transcend yourself unless you’re standing on a strong base, and it has to be built with discipline, focus, and hard work. Sure, don’t abandon your dreams, but remember that you can only fulfill them if you work hard on your current endeavours.