Working on a life assignment
Oct. 6, 2014
by Jenni Sebora

If you could describe your life in six words, what would you say? What words would you use to wrap it up in a short statement? Tough task, I think.

That was an assignment given to one of my students in her college communications class. She devised a six-word statement that succinctly and thoughtfully described herself. She shared it with the other students in our program, and me.

Afterwards, a few of the other students contemplated doing the same activity for themselves.

We decided as a class that we would take this simple, but confound assignment on.

As I was driving home from work, during that needed down time, I found myself going back to this assignment. I pondered it deeper.

I am now closer to retirement than I am to work years left. I have a son who is graduating from high school, a daughter who is beginning her high school career, and another child in middle school. It means greater independence for all involved. The years move on so quickly. What has my life been in these years?

I work with young adults, 18 to 21 years old, who are embarking on the next phase in their lives – post-secondary school maybe, a job, living on their own or more independently, getting a driver’s license, buying a car, and learning what life is about when one is an adult.

We have a sign in our room that states, “Independence is hard work.” It is.

I often hear these fine young adults say, “Being an adult is a lot of work.”

I respond with something like, “Yes, it is, but if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be doing what we need to, to be contributing, happy members of society.” Really, it is about self-worth. I reiterate this to my students often.

There may be twists and turns while getting where we want to be. As an adult who is in mid-life, I am much wiser and knowledgeable about life in general. I now know it can take unexpected twists and turns, but planning is necessary with the knowledge, and, finally, acceptance, that not everything goes as planned. And that is alright.

My students recently listed their individual main concerns about going on their own in the future. A few days later, they listed what their five current most important goals are.

We actually do this a few times a year. With some daily experience in “life college” (as we call it), goals can be, and many times are, tweaked or changed altogether.

Bi-weekly, I give them the assignment to list five things they did that day that will help them in the future.

As many young adults, they want it all yesterday, or at least now.

I feel it is important for them to realize that each day’s work and tasks are building blocks. I want them to thrive in that knowledge, and embrace each day’s opportunities.

These acknowledgements are what I have come to realize, as I now am most certainly a mature adult. And so, I pass this wisdom on to the young adults I work with.

I am still pondering and formulating my six words to describe my life. It is a great assignment.

I may not be exactly where I thought I would be, or my life may not be what I envisioned years ago. This is neither good nor bad.

So, these are the questions I ask myself as I am formulating my six word assignment: Am I making a positive impact on the people that I am surrounded by in my life? Am I a contributing member of society? Am I doing things that make me happy?

I can answer those questions positively. I am on my way to getting my assignment done, for now.

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