Keeping the future filled with dreams and flexibility Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

When you're in high school or college, you imagine the professional future of the people you know.

The person who studies hard? They're going to be a doctor or a lawyer. The athlete? He's going to be the one who makes it and goes pro. The singer? Her voice is good, but so are a lot of others.

It's easy to think we can predict the future. It's harder to determine why your predictions went wrong.

When I look at the people I knew in my youth and know now, I realize that who we become rarely has to do with who people think we are.

My friend Rick was a musician in high school. He taught himself guitar and formed a band. Stacy was the religious one. Bryan learned how to write computer programs by changing the code on programs already written. Craig was the politician, sharing his views about anything. Tim was more than an artist. He was an artiste, bringing creativity and spontaneity to the most mundane of tasks.

You may know similar types of people. You may think you can predict a future for each of them. And you'd be wrong. That's because the power to surprise, ourselves as well as others, is one of our greatest gifts.

Rick outgrew his rock star dreams and became an engineer. Stacy became a teen mom. Bryan bounced from job to job, teaching computer skills until he found a job in management, watching others do what he knows best. Craig still has opinions and works in a state office, but his dreams of elected life are still dreams, not a reality. And Tim, talented Tim, we miss him every day, a tortured soul destroyed by demons best left untouched.

Right now, everyone you know has thoughts about your future, just as you have thoughts about theirs. Based on how you act, they not only think they know who you are, they're pretty confident about who you will become. But the forces of reality on our lives will always take us in directions different than those we (or others) anticipate.

Being unable to predict our future doesn't mean it's wrong to dream. Sometimes life sends us down the path we expect, at least for a little while. Some people who study hard become doctors or lawyers. A great singer can be cherished on countless smaller stages, even though her voice is unheard on the radio.

And athletes? Sometimes hard work pays off. Two of my high school classmates became professionals. What are the odds?

I've never been so glad to have been so wrong about what I expected from others. Most people I know have exceeded everything I could have imagined. This is what makes life great. The person you are now, in your youth, is not the person you will become as an adult.

The person you are now is nothing more than a moment captured on Instagram. It exists forever but will quickly be forgotten as other moments take its place and change your path.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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