"Belmont" ~ A4 ink & watercolour pencil
"It’s a First World Problem but its real" ~ Amy Remekis; Brisbane Times 07MAY’12
In the 1600s, when educated youngsters threw it all in, it was called a Grand Tour.
These days, it’s better known as the quarter-life crisis that is overwhelmingly affecting those spoilt for choice.
“When I was in high school, I told everyone I was going to change the world. I was going to be a human rights lawyer, I was going to work for the United Nations and I was going to bring war criminals to justice,” 27-year-old Caroline Rawlings says.Advertisement: Story continues below
“I spent six years at uni learning to do just that. And then all of a sudden I was 24 years old with two degrees and not a single ounce of enthusiasm to use either.
”I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I hated law. I hated the thought of being in an office all day. My entire life to that point had been geared to achieving the dream I always thought I wanted but when it came right down to it, I didn’t want it any more.
”And with that, came guilt. So much guilt. And then, depression.”
It’s by no means a new phenomenon and even its moniker, the quarter-life crisis, borrows from its mid-life counterpart.
But it’s real and there is an increasing body of research exploring it, according to Associate Professor Evonne Miller, a social psychologist at the Queensland University of Technology.
“When people hit their mid-20s and they start to realise that the careers or the lives they might have picked when they were 17 or 18, that they decided to study something or they made a choice to do something and it is not turning out how they thought it would [that’s a quarter-life crisis],” Ms Miller said.
“It is just like a mid-life crisis, a time when an increasing number of people are starting to talk about a time when they might make a change, significant changes, in their life path.”
The global financial crisis has not helped matters.
Ms Miller said for some young people, emerging from university and discovering the job they’ve aimed and trained for is no longer available can result in feelings of loss and disillusionment.
“I think in some fields, architecture and the building industries for example, people have trained for a long time for their jobs, five years-plus and they have graduated and all of a sudden, the jobs they were told were going to be there for them, aren’t there,” she said.
“And it’s a real reality check, because they want to do what they’ve trained to do, that is their passion and unfortunately, currently some people just can’t get that job.”
Part of the reason an increasing number of people in their mid-twenties are - anecdotally at least - reporting disatisfaction with their lives is that they are making choices which can impact the rest of their lives when they are just teenagers.
Ms Miller said changes in work habits also meant a job was no longer for life.
“I think it is really difficult to make the right choice,” Ms Miller said.
“But I think it is really important to make our choice and to explore options but we need to realise that we are living longer, now an average of 82 to 85 years and that has shown us that you are likely to have three or four significant or different careers throughout your life.”
Which means, Ms Miller said, if you no longer want to be a lawyer, it is not the end of the world.
“It is important to acknowledge while some of your peers might be lawyers and loving it, it is OK to make a change now and go and do something completely different and start that coffee shop, if that is now your dream.”
Ms Rawlings said after six months of “wallowing and moping about my first-world problems” she decided to make a complete break and after volunteering overseas realised she wanted to work with aid agencies.
“Just nowhere near the legal side of things,” she laughed.
Which is how Ms Miller said was the best way to move through a crisis.
“You have to treat it as an opportunity,” she said.
“It is all about how you approach it and react to it. Treat it as a challenge you are going to have to get through and make the most of it.
“Let’s say you are a graduate and you can’t get a job, then go explore other opportunities.
“It is a cliché, but there is a lot of truth in it: you have to turn a crisis into opportunity.”
Just as long as it is kept in perspective.
“We have the luxury to even worry about these things and to some extent, it is an educated or affluent worry,” Ms Miller said.
“Some people don’t have the luxury to worry about whether they are feeling fulfilled in their roles or in their jobs, they are working any job to pay the rent, to pay bills or pay the mortgage.”
What we dream of doing requires a specialised, expensive education. Expensive in terms of financial cost and time committed. Or worse when there is no goal and several short learning experiences are followed by short stints in the workplace that demonstrate a lack of commitment & self-management
It occurs during at significant life transition stage ( reference to impact on mental health)
Why didn’t it turn out like as planned. Is it because our view of the world changes so much between the idealistic high school years and the reality that comes with graduation.
Another example of this is the current batch of IT graduates that have no jobs to go to upon graduating. A career in IT was always expected to come with an employment guarantee. If the pursuit of an IT career included the dream of creating 3D graphics and animation there was a course tailor-made for you but without jobs at the end of it, well not in this country anyway.
"Take pride in how far you have come
and have faith in how far you can go…
Always honor your journey….
~ Christian Larson"
I really enjoyed this article by Sara Elias that was published on www.familycapers.com.au Many of the tips given are also great principles for helping any jobseeker into the workforce.
As a parent myself, I’m often perplexed by the maze that is parenthood; what we have to navigate our way around. Literally, at the moment of conception of our children we have thoughts and feelings about how we’d like to raise them, what type of person we’d like them to be, how much success we’d like them to have and overall to try to create an environment where they will ultimately be happy.
In my most recent role I have come across many young people in the process of leaving school (either early or after Year 12) and having no idea, no direction or indeed any sense of purpose or self confidence in what they are about to embark on; the rest of their lives, hopefully in independence and employed. Right now, teenage unemployment rates in some parts of Australia are alarmingly double, triple and quadruple the national unemployment rate. I wonder how many parents have had support or guidance from anywhere about how to guide their young child who is entering adulthood into the next phase of their life to avoid them becoming an unemployment statistic.
If your teenager lacks direction, confidence and motivation to find work or even think about it, here are some tips you can use to help them toward work readiness to avoid them feeling paralysed with fear when the time comes for them to start their job search.
TIP 1: GIVE YOUR CHILDREN RESPONSIBILITY AND PURPOSE.
If you let them wander through life with no responsibility for anything in the home or otherwise, how do you expect them to suddenly take responsibility for finding a job and then keeping it?! Talk to them, often, about working and being employed and what their goals for themselves may be in this area. Dream Boards, or Vision Boards are a great, creative thing to do with your teenager to make their dreams visible and shared.
TIP 2: HELP YOUR KIDS SET GOALS.
It doesn’t matter how big or small and they don’t have to be employment related. If they get used to the concept of working toward something they will know what achievement feels like, and then want it more for themselves. Use the SMART practice of goal setting Speific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed and you won’t go wrong.
TIP 3: SHOW THEM THE PLAN! FULL DISCLOSURE!
It’s the age old management trick if you show your team the big picture, they’ll get what they are individually working for. Show them the stepping stones of how they can get to where they want to be. This could be anything from owning their own home, being in a certain occupation or being able to be a supportive parent themselves. Whatever it is there has to be a plan and a path to get there broken down into baby steps.
TIP 4: DON’T DO IT FOR THEM.
I know it’s hard!! Each time you are about to do something for your teenager, think to yourself; is this something they could do themselves, with my support? I’m talking about things like ringing to make a haircut appointment, cooking dinner, ordering takeaway, washing clothes, researching TAFE or Uni courses, calling TAFE’s and Uni’s to enquire or request information. Far too many of us are all too willing to do all these things to help our wonderful offspring, but infact, all we’re doing is hindering them by not allowing them to develop these skills for themselves.
TIP 5: LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES.
This is a TOUGH one. We only learn from our mistakes, as long as when we make them we are not judged by them. I’m using this tip purely in the context of job searching, work trials, speaking to people on the phone and so on. It’s okay for them to talk on the phone with someone and accidentaly say the wrong thing, or stumble on a few words, when they do it 100% their confidence will soar. Keep being positive about how they are going about it and they shouldn’t loose their way.
TIP 6: LEARN ABOUT TRANSFERABLE SKILLS.
Once you give your teenager responsibilities (and they accept them!), they will be learning SKILLS. These skills can be transferred into the workplace. For example, a young person who has responsibility for cooking dinner and doing the garden once or twice a week is teaching themselves time management, multi -tasking, a sense of responsibility, using their initiative, not to mention the actual skills of cooking and gardening. Once they have some transferrable skills, finding a job is made easier, they have something more to offer than just their personality.
TIP 7: BE A CAN DO PARENT, NOT A CAN’T DO PARENT.
There is nothing that frustrates me more than hearing a young person say that their parents told them not to apply for a job or do something in their lives because they wouldn’t be able to do it. Don’t be your child’s barrier to achievement. We walk a fine line between protecting our children from potential hits to their confidence and letting them decide on their own what they may or may not be capable of. I’ll leave it to you to find the balance with your own teenager. Remember, you don’t need to be your childs barrier to failing at something just make sure you are there to support and encourage their learning from it.
TIP 8: ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN TEACH YOUR CHILD TO ARM THEM FOR SEARCHING FOR WORK AND SUSTAINING THEIR EMPLOYMENT IS RESILIENCE.
I think you might get this one before I spell it out. Resilience = confidence = success, even in failure.
TIP 9: ENCOURAGE YOUR TEENAGER TO GET A PART TIME JOB AND ENSURE THEY HAVE INTERVIEW READY CLOTHES.
This is almost an absolute MUST (assuming there are no other physical or mental barriers preventing your child from doing this). It is absolutely evident that those young people who have a part time job while they are in education are far more likely to gain sustainable employment post education. There is nothing worse than a young person trying to navigate their way through the employment gauntlet at the age of 18 having never worked, either inside or outside of the home. Ensuring your teenager has interview ready clothes ensures they feel confident and comfortable attending an interview and, there are no excuses!
There are plenty of part time roles out there for young people that will arm them with all the skills necessary to find a permanent role when the time comes. There is nothing wrong with working in a fast food outlet, many of them have some of the most comprehensive training and on-boarding processes in corporate business, so you don’t have to worry about your offspring being supported!
TIP 10: DON’T BE THE BARRIER
Encourage, co-operate, guide and facilitate. We are not supposed to be directors in our teenagers life toward work and employment, we are there to help them forge their OWN PATH. There are also parents I’ve seen that are what I would call passive barriers, some may call them enablers. Those parents who actively play a supporting role to their teenager who expresses distain at working by telling them they don’t have to do it if they don’t want to. Ask yourself what do you want for your child? How are you going to push, encourage or motivate them to get it for themselves?
Guiding your teenager through this important stage in their life is one of the most significant things you will do as a parent. It will shape their initial experience in the world of work; it will be the first thing on their path of defining who they are or who they will become as an adult. My parents, when I turned 16 made me pound the pavement in our hospitality rich town and go into every prospective employer with my resume until I found myself work. A little harsh? Possibly. Did it do me any favours? Absolutely, without doubt. I hated doing it, and as I recall complained a lot before I left the house each morning to do it, but I have never, since then, felt that I would ever find it difficult finding a job. I found a job the second or third day out, I hated it, but stuck at it to get some experience to enable me to move to another role.
Whether we like to admit it or not working creates purpose, a sense of self and is a part of our identity. Its power is often underestimated; it has the ability to make or break a person and is sometimes the difference between great mental health and mental illness. Being unemployed isnít something we wish for our children as it comes with a boat load of other issues, so let’s make it easier for them in the long term but creating small, learning experiences for them now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Elias is an employment expert having spent twelve years recruiting in both the UK and Australia for major global corporations. Most recently she has been designing and running employment and work readiness programs for youth and those with multiple barriers to employment in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Sarah is a mother of one and lives in MelbourneSource: familycapers.com.au
"“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ~ John Lennon"
HOPE - the light at the end of tunnel
Hope is the foundation for recovery. It is the belief that things do not have to remain the same. To do have hope means to focus on your own strengths not weaknesses; and look to the future not past. It takes constant work to beat the pervading negative models and stereotypes that surround us and it takes courage to take risks to make improvements. For providers offering support to those on their recovery journey, model hope by offering choices, even if they are turned down repeatedly.
Recovery theme #2 : Meaning, Purpose & Direction - signposts
With mental illness comes a loss of a sense of self & the illness quickly becomes your own identity. Being able to care for yourself and function is not enough. Recovery involves discovering the meaning, purpose and direction of your own life experience. That sense of purpose can be found in work, relationships, spirituality & political activity.
Recovery theme #1 : Empowerment - Even when the signs ahead are bad, I know that I am enough!
“Recovery can occur when people are empowered to take ownership & play an active role in their own recovery”
- make choices & set goals
- given the opportunity to fail & learn from their mistakes
- not measure success from what is considered ‘normal’