Growing up in a fast-paced world may be your greatest challenge yet.
This article originally appeared in Rebel Magazine.
“Times, they are a-changin’.”
No truer words have ever been spoken than the ones my grandfather always used to say. I’d spend much of my summer with my grandparents, especially when I was younger and I didn’t care about being cool and then when I was older and being cool didn’t matter to me once again.
My grandfather is part of “The Greatest Generation” and I am so very proud of him. He served in the Army during World War II in Europe and I was fortunate enough to sit down with him as he told his story of the war for the first and only time. He talked about going to boot camp as a teenager and shipping off to England in a troop ship. His life was turned upside down by global conflict, but he and his generation managed to find a way through it all.
Times were changing back then for him, much the way they’re changing now for future generations. I believe the greatest challenge for my son’s generation will be the ever-accelerating pace of the global lives we lead. I want my son to be aware of this potential challenge and to embrace, rather than run from it. If I could, I’d write him a letter that he could read as he’s about to graduate from high school. That letter would look something like this.
You’re almost there. You’re at the precipice of manhood, on your way out of being my “little boy” and well on your way to being the man that will look me right in the eye. I may always remember you as my little nine year old, even if I knew that wouldn’t last forever. Before you know it you’ll be off to college with the prospects of a job (God willing) not long after that. You may feel like you have all the time in the world and maybe in some ways you do. It’s my job to worry about your future. It’s your job to be a kid. But those roles are changing soon and I want you to be prepared for what’s to come.
I think every generation seems to echo the same sentiment: “times are a-changin’” because it seems the saying always holds some truth. The pace of life never slows as we age. Younger generations pick up on things like technology much faster than mine, my father’s or grandfather’s generations ever did. Go to any mall and you’re sure to see a toddler on an iPhone these days. I’ve considered asking one to show me how mine works on more than one occasion.
With the faster pace comes increased globalization and with increased globalization come both opportunities and challenges for your generation. Globalization means increased competition and as the world’s societies and economies integrate.
I’m convinced the challenge to you and your generation is to keep up the blistering pace. Your challenge is to help not only shape yourselves but shape a nation. It is a burden that each generation has held and one that you will share someday as well. But I’m positive you’ll make me proud.
My advice to you as you make your transition from being a boy to being a man is to prepare yourself as much as possible. Educate yourself, explore new cultures much the way you did your toys when you were just a toddler—with an open-mindedness and curiosity that only a child can possess. If you’re able, travel and experience new lands and get to know its people. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge in those that have lived different lives than you. Learn more about the world around you and take some risks while you’re still young. With a world of challenge comes a world of opportunity as well. Embrace them both.
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Photo credit: Flickr / lindsey gee