Learn to follow your own path

There are many of our area’s residents who find themselves on the verge of a new path in their lives.

In recent weeks, our local colleges and universities, as well as several of our high schools, have held commencement ceremonies. Those receiving either their high school diploma or their college degree now have a variety of options from which to choose in the course of their lives.

Having covered uncounted graduations over the years, there tends to be a unifying theme in many of the presentations.

Graduates are advised to look within, consider their own talents and find a path which works best for them.

They are told not to be discouraged if their plans don’t work out.

The advice might seem a bit repetitive, but it all still holds true, and it is a message I hope everyone taking these new steps this time of year keep in mind.

None of us are going to have the same life. Even going to the same school, there are a variety of backgrounds that make us unique.

Our families are different, our experiences are different, our abilities are different.

What works out for one probably won’t work out for someone else, even if they attempt to follow the exact same path.

Those of you who have completed college probably are in search of a job right now, if you haven’t found one already.

Hopefully, you find something you enjoy, especially if it is within your field of study.

There is a chance you may have to leave the area for that to happen. There’s also a possibility you may have to find something else for the time being.

Our high school grads will spend the next couple of months preparing for college, or perhaps they are attending a technical school. Some may be entering military service or heading directly into the workforce themselves.

There are a multitude of options ahead of them whatever direction they may find themselves heading down.

They will all learn more about themselves, gain new abilities, make new relationships and better prepare themselves for the lives ahead.

We’ve all been in a similar position at one point or another.

We’ve found ourselves unsure of where to go or what to do. Or, perhaps, we thought we had everything figured out, only to find a major obstacle in the way and forcing us to make a different decision.

I can tell you, when I was in high school I had hopes of becoming an attorney.

I took Latin classes on the advice of a teacher, but during my senior year I came to a point where I felt it was not my path.

I’ve always enjoyed reading, and hearing people’s stories, so I thought I would try journalism.

It’s not always an ideal career, but it’s something I have enjoyed. I’ve even been able to use some of my Latin knowledge.

Life is full of uncertainties, and we never know where we will end up.

The best thing to do is to take a deep breath, look at your options, maybe seek advice from family and friends, and find what works best for you.

You may find yourself enjoying a different career than you initially thought for yourself.

You may find that college isn’t for you.

You may get into college and find yourself changing your major a time or two.

We can’t let others plan our lives for us. They can advise us based on their own experiences, they can teach us to help us prepare, but, ultimately, it is up to each of us to make the decision for our own lives.

Some of those choices are going to be good, others not so much. But they are our choices.

Those major turning points; those forks in the road are going to happen. There is no getting around them.

We can only hope we have had enough preparation to make the proper decision when that time comes.

At the end of the day, though, the path is ours to follow.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)