What Do You Want to do With Your Life?

Playing Classical Guitar
Playing Classical Guitar

My life

If you're a teenager, or if you can remember being a teenager, you probably agree that one of the biggest questions in life at that age is "what am I going to do with my life?". At my age this is a rather moot point, but when you're a teenager it is a big deal, because the decisions you make will affect your entire future. This is a pretty scary thought for a teenager, so they often tend to ignore it and avoid responsibility for the future. Of course every teenager reacts differently to the situation.

Now when you get to be my age, you begin to think will back on the decisions you made at that crucial time, and wonder what would have happened if you'd chosen a different path.

When I was 17, the one thing I was sure of was that I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. I was offered the opportunity to go to MIT, an opportunity I didn't take for many reasons which were only excuses at the time. I was afraid. I was afraid that I was going to bust my butt, and then find out that I really didn't want to be an engineer, or a rocket scientist. I was also afraid that I couldn't cut it, because I was a very lazy student and I knew that I wouldn't get through MIT being a very lazy student. Though that doesn't mean that my other considerations, like finance, and my family situation, were not valid. It does however mean, that if I had really wanted to do it, I would've found a way. The point is I really wasn't passionate about being an engineer. This was more of a goal that my grandmother had wanted for me, and it was not my goal.

Some people are very lucky, and at the age of 17 or 18, they have something they're passionate about. Looking back, I think this is very important. After all if you're going to spend the rest of your life doing something, it really wouldn't hurt if you are passionate about it. If you're only interested in making money, and in order to do that you do something that you don't like, you will be miserable. On the other hand if you do something that barely pays the bills but you are passionate about it, you might still find some happiness. Of course if you find something that pays real well and you are passionate about it, you might be even happier.

I remember as an 18-year-old, arguing with my uncle, who was an engineer for Raytheon Corp. He was professing the benefits of working for corporate America, while I was professing the advantages of working for yourself. I must've put up a good argument, because, though he never admitted it, a couple of years later he started his own business selling recreation vehicles. I, however, did not find something I was passionate about until I was already in engineering school. Unfortunately that thing was music, and I say unfortunately because the percentage of people who want to be a rock star and actually make a living at it is not really great. I wrote a lot of music, I guess about 1000 songs by the time I was 19, so I decided I wanted to go to music school. I had absolutely no qualifications for going to music school, I only studied music in the seventh grade and played a little saxophone. The fact that I played guitar would not impress many music schools in those times. Still because I was passionate about it, I decided to go for it. Unfortunately between the time I withdrew from engineering school, and was attempting to get into music school, my draft number came up.

Now my reaction to being drafted was, "you can't draft me", so I went down to see the Navy recruiter. The Navy recruiter was out, so I joined the Air Force. As you can see I had this well-planned. During my time in the Air Force I sang in a male choir, played in my first band, made it to the semifinals in the Air Force talent show and learned to repair aircraft guidance systems. While in Madrid Spain, for the semifinals for the talent show, I met a classical guitarist, a real life starving musician. I had dabbled a little bit in classical guitar, and he inspired me to perhaps study with a grandmaster. He named a few of them were scattered around the world. I had to get back to repairing guidance systems, so I put this data on the back burner.

When I got out of the Air Force I went back to the idea of going to music school. I was not qualified, so therefore I had to study other things while I was getting qualified. It was somewhere around this time that I heard about Alexander Bellow, a grandmaster who lived less than 20 miles from my home. I decided to study with him in order to prepare myself for getting into school. I had to audition in order to be able to take lessons. I was very nervous when I played for Mr. Bellow, as the only classical song I knew was Greensleeves, but I played for him and when I was done his exact words were "I like the way you play. You have a lot of feeling. But I'm going to have to teach you to play the guitar all over again.". He assigned me to one of his students, who would teach me up to the point when I would be ready to study with him. This took a few months, however it turns out that he was going to be starting a guitar department at the local branch of the University. He accepted me, so I was now in music school, a place that I was not qualified to be.

Remember I said I was a lazy student, everything had always come really easy to me. So you can imagine how I felt on my first day of music theory, when the teacher played a chord on the piano and said "write down what I just played". I was in awe, could people really do that? For the first time in my life I had to fight an uphill battle in order to learn something. People in the more technical fields tend to look at musicians as intellectually inferior. Boy were they wrong! True, most people do find music a lot easier to confront than let's say calculus, but for me calculus was easy, but this music was impossible. This was a very good lesson for me in life, as when I started teaching I had great empathy for students who didn't understand.

Yes...And Yhe Point IS?

Now I have gotten way off subject here, so I better get on track before I end up writing a novel. To give you a brief summary, I got very much into classical guitar, I sold my Martin, Mr. Bellow wanted me to become a professional concert guitarist,( this was much like my grandmother wanting me to be an engineer), Mr. Bellow died, I decided not to be a starving musician and went off to make money in the business world.

Now after a series of successes and failures in the business world, I found myself in a position where I'd lost my shirt into business selling energy-saving products. At this point, in order to make some money I started tutoring math for a local tutoring service. One thing led to another and I ended up teaching math and tutoring math and science. I had finally found something I loved to do. I had never considered this before, because teachers were so underpaid and because I had always been told "those who can- do, those who cannot- teach". Well to heck with that! I discovered that I enjoyed teaching. I started my own tutoring service with some other tutors and i never considered what I did work. And in my opinion this is how you should feel about your job if you're going to be happy.

So the point of all this is simply, if you're a teenager and you're looking for what you're going to do with the rest of your life, do something you're passionate about, and that you enjoy doing. If you have no idea what that is, try to find it. You could spend 10 years in college like I did, but I wouldn't recommend it, or you could go into the military, or you could bum around Europe for a year. It doesn't really matter, what does matter is that you find something that you really want to do. Once you do-go for it!

Hopefully you are one of those who was already found something they really want to do. I'm envious, because it took me about 30 years after I graduated from high school to find teaching. If you haven't found something you're passionate about yet, I certainly hope you can shave a few decades off from my bad example.

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