Monday, February 2, 2009
What I want to do when I grow up
I had the pleasure of speaking to some great kids at Gus Garcia Middle School in San Antonio, Texas last week. It was a welcome break from the day-job grind, even if it cost me some money and drive time. These kids were very cool.
My buddy Ray Ayala had asked me to speak to his classes for Career Day. It sounded like a lot of fun at first, but as the day approached, I started to get a little bit nervous. Not because I was afraid of speaking, but because I wanted to be excellent for them, give them something memorable and useful to take away.
The crux of my message was that you really cannot know what you want to do until you stumble upon it. You can intellectualize, dream, study, and plan all you want, but until you are in the trenches of that job, you will not know how it feels to you. I have been blessed to live out modest versions of two of my childhood dream jobs: being a professional musician, and a professional actor. To my utter shock and dismay, neither was a perfect experience. No wonder all those Hollywood stars get hooked on drugs and crash their Porches into telephone poles!
Since we cannot know, I encouraged the kids to try everything they can, even if it is just as a volunteer or an intern. And to use school as a chance to find their medium- math, science, reading & writing, sports, public speaking, or even acting. Put that information in their files, and look back on it when they are 25, to see what patterns form. But most of all, do not rush yourself, and do not assume that you know. And be okay with not knowing; it's normal, it's cool.
These kids were a terrific audience, but you never know if kids are listening to you, especially middle school kids. At the end of the talks, though, the kids swarmed the front like piranhas, clamoring for pictures, and a few CDs and DVDs I had brought along. I must have signed 150 autographs that day.
Pay or no pay, those are the real "rock star" moments you live for.