Teenage Lessons on responsibility
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.”
My 16-year-old son had his confirmation recently. That probably doesn’t mean a great deal to most people. I know I had no idea what to expect. I did know that he chose to go to ‘conf’ classes where the teenagers seemed to have fun meeting together and discussing some of the bigger life questions with the local vicars. I knew that, traditionally here in Switzerland, it is the day when you get your first glass of wine, there are presents, it’s a ‘coming-of-age’ big day and it is a great opportunity (especially after the Covid restrictions) for a party!
I was not at all prepared for the depth of thought that had gone into the theme these young people had chosen for their joint message or for the consideration that went into each, individual presentation that each one delivered so passionately.
The group’s chosen theme was responsibility. They spoke about what it means to take responsibility and especially that we take a part of the 100% of our responsibility for ourselves, but also for our communities, our families, our countries, the planet and our environment. One teenager reminded us that, as well as taking responsibility for the things we do, we take equal responsibility for those things we do not do; the things we avoid, the things we do not stand up to and the things we turn away from.
My son spoke last. Considering that he is a 16-year-old boy at the stage that all mothers of 16-year-old boys can most certainly relate to, I wasn’t so sure what his message would be. This guy who you have to call when he’s in the same room because of the noise cancelling air pods constantly in his ears, this boy that tells me, “Don’t start that coaching crap” if I ask him how something went or how he’s feeling, the teenager who is fluent in ‘ugggh’ began to speak …
…and blew me away.
Career or calling?
As you already heard, this all took place in Switzerland and, as we live on Lake Zürich, all this was in German. He spoke about the responsibility that they now have around choosing a ‘Beruf’. This is a word that means your job, your career or your position. My ‘Beruf’ is coach, mentor or supervisor for example. He used an example from the bible of fishermen tending to their catches and mending their nets, quite happily doing their ‘job’, until they heard a ‘Berufung’ or calling.
He spoke about our responsibility to honour our ‘Berufung’ in our ‘Beruf’; to honour our calling in whatever work we do if we are lucky enough to already know what that is. He reminded us that we, and especially them, as teenagers, should not worry if our purpose has not yet become clear for us or if career decisions seem complex and daunting.
The most important thing of all is to keep ourselves open for the thing that will certainly call to our very individual hearts (often in the strangest and most unexpected of moments-like a group of teenagers on a Sunday morning) if only we are ready and willing to hear it.
I heard the message and I have been questioning myself since. While my husband was blowing his nose emotionally, I was asking myself:
How connected is my Beruf to my Berufung?
I thought back to what was behind my career path choices (and I most certainly include parenthood in there) and to what was rational logic and what was true calling? The funny thing is that I have had a number of careers, including artist, teacher, coach, supervisor, interpreter and mother. All different yet had some element of my calling to support others in finding their own purpose and sweet spot (Love, art, curiosity, people, team-work, learning, fun, humour, psychology, creativity and SO much more).
If I were 16 again and faced with the responsibilities of adulthood, would I do anything different? I would keep listen to my heart-calling above head-logic and I’m sure I’d have been where I am now far quicker. Would I change anything? All that wonderful learning along the way? No chance!
What about you?
What is it that makes your heart sing?
Is it the same thing that used to light you up as a child or teen?
Are you happy enough in a job that you can do well, with nice people and good money that would be so ridiculous to give up that you stopped your heart’s whisperings?
Do you have a calling and purpose that you lives in everything you do, even in a difficult job or challenging situation?
Are you sitting in your sweet spot of doing a job and living a life that makes your heart sing and paying the bills?
Are you still waiting for (fill in the gap) before you can live your purpose?
What practicalities, fears, narratives or external factors are holding you back?
How much of your 100% are you taking for yourself and allowing others to keep for themselves?
If you knew what made your heart sing and could bring just 5% more into your life, what would you do differently?
If you had the space and conditions to listen to your calling and to hear and define your purpose, what could be possible then?
If you had a sweet spot support partner at your side, what would you be able to do then?
You only have one life.
There will only ever be one of you.
What advice would your 16 year old self have for you?