This week Beverly Hills High’s Ms. SantaCruz, invited me to speak to her Work Experience class about The Real World. My High School Kid was dismayed that anyone would want to hear me talk about anything.
Like many high school juniors, he’s swirling in a whirlpool of ACT prep, college personal essays and the elusive quality of passion. It seems as if students are required to have one these days. Or else.
Passion is one the things I talked about to my son’s class. He cringed when I said, “When I went here, my girlfriends and I rarely used the word ‘passion’ and it had zip to do with professional goals and everything to do with the cute guy in faded 501s in our fifth period English class.”
In a year or two the term ‘passion’ will probably be replaced by something else but for now, it’s all the kids hear and frankly, it’s making a lot of them anxious. If they like playing golf, but they aren’t good enough to go pro, does playing golf qualify as a passion? If they love electronic music, does that mean they should go into the music business? My older son is a History major with a minor in Art History. He really enjoys his classes and knows he wants to be a lawyer. Passionate about law? Doubt it. Keenly interested? That’s more like it. When someone asks him: What kind of law do you want to practice? He says: I Don’t Know. Those three little words can be useful to a high school student if, heaven help us, she runs into someone asking about her passions in life.
From what I’ve gleaned about the college application process, I think authenticity and finding your voice is more meaningful to admissions officers than selecting a passion.
In the Real World, people make plans and have goals, but they don’t always work out as planned. In fact, I’d say most of the time they don’t. Here’s my Real World story:
I went to UCLA for 6 weeks as an English major expecting to be a novelist. The campus and class size felt way too big and after a heart-to-heart with a USC counselor, I applied to and was accepted to the USC School of Cinema-TV. My goal was to be writing-directing my first feature film by 28. A writers strike put my goals on ice and I slaved away for a couple of years as an assistant, then development person and finally as an independent writer-producer. In total, I think I got paid about .25 an hour after I look back at the time investment. On the personal side, though, I came out a gazillionaire. I learned how to be scrappy, inventive and to work with people at the bottom of the entertainment ladder, as well as, those at the top rungs. I met a handsome film executive I call Mr. UnHollywood and fell head over heels for him. My goals for the film business faded as my new goals in the mommy business grew. My current goal is to finish my Young Adult novel and to blog more frequently. That’s Real World.