Recently, on the highway between Boston and southern New Hampshire, I passed a car driving in the right lane. Above the license plate was a sticker reading “student driver” and in the driver’s seat was a very scared looking teenager. Even though I see student drivers fairly frequently, this sight reminded me of how I felt as a 16-year-old. Those hours in the car with my mom in the passenger seat are not too far back in my memory. I don’t think I’ll soon forget all those fond Monday afternoons and Saturday mornings spent in the Driver’s Ed classroom. Thankfully, all those hoops I had to jump through resulted in a bona-fide drivers license and the sweet freedom made when a car hits the road.
Believe it or not, I’m not here to tell you about how hard work pays off or to never give up or believe in yourself or any of that (even if it’s probably true). I want to say something that doesn’t sound nice at all: Driver’s Ed never ends.
Now I don’t mean that actual Driver’s Ed never ends. Obviously most of us have washed our hands of that. What I’m trying to say is that stuff like drivers Ed never ends.
(I told you it wouldn’t sound nice.)
Unless you are straight up royalty, there are always, always going to be things in life that you have to do that you don’t want to do.
Here are a few things that fall under this category:
- Resume building
- Job searching
These are the less-fun parts of life. None of us wait all weekend for the workweek to start again. These are things we don’t necessarily enjoy doing. However, your life will be easier if you understand that they exist and you will probably have to do some or most of these things for the rest of your life. Life has hoops that you can’t go around. Like that old camp song about the bear hunt, “gotta go through it.”
You may be wondering why I’m saying this. So far this doesn’t sound inspiring or heart-warming or anything else that blogs normally are. Honestly, I’m saying this because I didn’t realize this soon enough. I lived under the delusion that either these responsibilities would go away or that I could give them to other people. I believed that after I jumped through this one last hoop, I could kick up my feet and never have another care in the world. However I soon realized (after I had my license, after I graduated high school, after I began college) that there was still more to do. I still had to get a job for the upcoming summer. I still had dentist appointments. I still had to vacuum my room. I still had to change my oil. I still had to check my bank statements. For some reason, that magical finish line of no responsibilities never arrived.
Maybe at this point you’re asking, “Heck, is this even worth it?” But I’m going to tell you right now that it is. If you will, just take a moment and imagine your life with no drivers license. With no high school diploma. No bank account. No clean teeth. No job. No money. No clean laundry. All those annoying things you did grudgingly have brought you to a new place in life. A place where you can drive a car of friends somewhere for fun. A place where you can go see a movie because you cashed your paycheck. A place where you can wear clean clothes to class because you did your own laundry. This is your life. (Give yourself a figurative pat on the back.)
If you take away one thing from me today, it’s that you should not avoid things you don’t want to do. Don’t avoid paying your taxes. Don’t shrink from that job interview. Don’t leave cleaning your room until the next time you find something dead under your bed. That’s a bad idea. All these things are bad ideas. It’s gonna take some sweat and blood but part of growing up is embracing doing the difficult things. They’re not going away anytime soon.
But if you do embrace them, if you do step up to the challenges of life, your life will be better. You will be able to enjoy your weekends and have that spending money. You will be able to live openly and freely without the stress of regret or guilt. Believe it or not, tackling the difficult stuff (instead of running from it) will make your life easier.
Someone wise once said “With great responsibility comes great reward.” But the opposite is also true: Little responsibility leads to little reward.
Which do you want?