Thursday, May 26, 2011

Insouciance Décélérée

There are times when life seems to speed up without you apparently noticing it. Preoccupations take up an inordinate amount of brain space, and when you come for air you realise that days have gone by, days you'll never get back. We are told to make the most of every day because it might be our last, but of course that's just not possible when everyone else's potential last days are clamouring for attention. You get knocked about from mental pillar to post between parental illness and your off-springs' issues.

My eldest is in 3e and is having to make decisions on his future. Next year he should be in lycée on the path of one of the Bac series - S, ES, L, etc. What he studies for his Bac rather determines what he can study post-Bac, so it's important to get on the right track.

Being fourteen and a half, and a boy, he is typically insouciant about the future. As Philippe Aubert de Gaspé put it:
"Quel heureux temps que celui de l'enfance et de l'adolescence! Toujours à la jouissance du moment, oublieuse du passé, insouciante de l'avenir."
At his age I was pretty clueless too but I was less insouciant. I worried more, not that it got me anywhere. I also stayed clueless until my 40s by which time it was mostly too late to do anything about it.

A typical conversation with my ado son:
Me: What Bac would you like to do?
Him: Oh, dunno, maybe ES.
Me: Right...
Him: Yes, I could become an accountant.
Me: Do you know what that is?
Him: Nope, but do they earn lots of money for not too much work?
Cue strangled gurgling and much tearing of hair from the floor.

We all want to earn lots of money for little work, but as my TWDB informed him, most of those jobs involve being a drug dealer, pimp, mercenary, so they also come with a short life span and a violent end, and he should not rely on winning the lottery.

So it was back to the drawing board. I made him do the Briggs-Myers test for him to start to understand his personality type and hopefully give him some ideas about future direction. I did it myself, too, for a laugh, and came out as INFJ. I'm calm, thoughtful, and intuitive, and very attached to my independence. I have a 'tell me what's wrong' sign on my head (which sometimes gets a bit much) and want to put the world right.

My son came out as ENFP so is introspective, values-oriented, inspiring, social and extremely expressive. He was delighted to see that good careers for this type include being an actor, politician, journalist, psychologist, entrepreneur, etc. I get the feeling he thinks the clouds are slowly clearing and he can start to see the way ahead. Hopefully this will inspire him to work, too... and think less about basing his choices around his social life.

I have been scouring the internet for help on orientation, interesting careers and the studies you need to do them. As you can see, I'm taking a lot more interest than the boy concerned, but then that's probably because I understand what's at stake. Adolescents often can't see beyond the end of their nose because it takes maturity to plan ahead and see the big picture, and that comes later. So it's very unfortunate to have to make important choices so early that will affect you for many years ahead! If only he had a passion, like his friend does for birds of prey and wants to become a falconer. As I told him, you are one of millions of boys who likes playing video games, and you can't all do that for a living! Nor can you squat on my sofa indefinitely.

I'm sure he'll get there in the end, and not leave it until it's too late or get stuck on the wrong path (unlike some!). Better not leave it to fingers crossed though...

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