I just celebrated my 23rd birthday. That’s right, 23-years-old. For many, that is cause for concern. Many readers just made an unconscious note in their minds to no longer read my blogs or take my advice. You see, there is a subtle bias in our society that being young means your opinions have shallow roots. I can tell you this from personal experience.

My public speaking career began when I was 14. I was working 30 hours a week by 16, a youth and college director at 18, a pastor at 20, and a Program Director for an international non-profit at 22. I also graduated college as a double major in Management and Political Science. I don’t tell you any of this to brag – I tell you to empathize. It’s hard to start something when you are young. I have lived the ugly parts of it.

The world expects very little from young people. It’s sad, actually. You are almost considered to be sub-adult until you graduate college and get a job. This causes many young adults to focus their whole lives into their school-work and nothing else. It is the only responsibility the world gives them.

I want to tell you the hard truth – being a college student can sometimes mean you get away with being a kid when you shouldn’t. People expect very little from college students outside of school because they do very little outside of school. Kids go to school all day and then play the rest of the evening. That’s what millions of people are still doing between the ages of 18 and 22.

Do not spend four years in a bubble and suddenly emerge with a degree and expect success. Spend the time you have in college learning about your field of study, but also spend it learning about life. Work a full time job and balance that with classes. Pay for your own housing. Volunteer at local nonprofits and charities. You don’t have to do all these things, but at least try some. Yes, it is possible.

CEO’s and managers from all around will tell you what I am about to tell you – it is better to be a B-student that has work and real-life experience than an A-student with with neither.

Expect more from yourself. Prove to the world that young people are capable of doing more than sitting at a desk for four years.

Zak Shellabarger
Project Director

Categories: Think Piece

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