On my way to work recently I was listening to NPR as I often do. Because there’s so much bad news being reported in the media on a typical day it can get a little depressing. So anytime I hear an inspirational story it lifts my spirits.
As part of its Family Matters series, NPR interviewed Nicholas McDonald, a 24-year old in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Here’s a link to the interview.
Nicholas told his story about being part of a multi-generational family living under one roof. He explained that he had a rough childhood and that he didn’t have many good influences growing up. Now, unemployed and in his mid-twenties, he is feeling pressure from his step dad to find a job.
Nicholas’s story is one that is playing out in the lives of an increasing number of Americans. Because of the recession and the difficult job market, many college grads are moving back in with their parents. Even with a full-time job, young grads are finding their student loan burden is too much to handle without support from parents. They may feel hopeless because of what they hear in the media. Or overwhelmed because they have no idea what they want to do. Or pressured by the expectations of family and friends.
The first thing you should do is realize that you’re not alone. There are literally millions of young Americans going through the same thing. At 26, I still don’t know exactly what I want to do when I grow up.
Second, eliminate the negative people from your life. These people thrive telling you that you can’t do what you want. Surround yourself instead with people who will support you and lift you up.
Third, don’t feel guilty for wanting to take a little time off. After graduating from college, I took a year off to live in Europe and pursue my love of traveling. I heard from so many people who said to travel while you’re young, because before you know it you’ll be 30 and stuck in the office. Backpacking through a foreign land might be just what you need.
Fourth, don’t lose hope. You have skills and qualities that nobody else in the world has. Sometimes all you need is that last bit of effort to reach your goal. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by American writer Elbert Hubbard:
A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
Often, we’re all that stands in our way.
Finally, when you reach your goals and find success, sincerely thank those who helped you get there. These are your true friends who won’t count the costs when you need help.
As for Nicholas, he explains that as long as he’s contributing financially to his family he’d be okay still living there at 30. That may or may not be the case for you. But his example shows that by knowing what’s important to you and keeping a positive attitude, you’re likely find success.