In my growing up years–when dinosaurs roamed the earth–my father and I would talk upon occasion about my future. One of the things he constantly stressed, when I laid out my hopes and dreams? ALWAYS have a backup plan; a ‘Plan B’. My mother would also stress having the skills needed to ‘thrive and survive’. Back in the day when society did everything on manual and electronic typewriters, she made sure that I was ‘signed up’ for a typing course in Junior High school. “A man who can type,” she noted, “will NEVER be out of a job.”
It seems that the airwaves and newspapers are consistently crammed with shows and illustrations of young people taking to dancing, rapping, cooking, acting, passing a football or shooting a basketball as a way of making their way to fortune and fame. MOST of the participants are young men and women of color…which means that the ‘propaganda mill’ is working full blast to steer US away from the classroom and into venues that don’t involve much in the way of ‘book learning’…or true success.
Dear young person: A firm majority of you–I hate to burst some bubbles–are going to spend your grown up years working a regular job, getting married, and raising a family. That is, IF you graduate from High School, College, or Trade School. The highest title you may ever be granted will either be husband, wife, father, mother or an upright person in your home city. There is NOTHING wrong with this!
Why am I telling you this? Let’s be honest about your aspirations. I seem to recall that one out of one million young men actually make it to playing basketball at the pro level…meaning in the NBA, and that two for every one million young men actually make it to playing football at the pro level…meaning the NFL. It’s one thing to be athletically talented. However, having the drive to practice–from the Middle School level on up an average of several hours a day, PLUS doing your studies, PLUS attending games, PLUS individual practice and time in the weight room during the off-season is a heavy load. Many of you may have the ‘desire’ to be a pro-athlete, but do you REALLY have the drive?
Let’s move on to the performing arts. At the risk of irritating a few people, only a handful of young people make it to be professional dancers, actors and actresses. It takes an average of four hours a day in ANY performing art in order to develop the proficiency needed to become ‘average’, and a few more hours above this PER DAY to be considered ‘above average’ to audition for even a small performing company. You’ve seen the various talent shows…but you must remember that the participants SPENT several hours a day to get their shot…and you don’t get to see the failures!
You can ‘want’ to do something, or, talk about getting into a vocation. My question to you: What Is Your Plan B? What happens IF your dreams don’t come true for that NFL career, or, as a famous dancer or rapper? There are ONLY so many positions to go around. What are your alternative plans, just in case you don’t have the talent to make it? What is your ‘survival skill set’? What skills have you picked up in your Middle School or High School career that you can use to pay your rent and put food on your table while you are awaiting to be ‘discovered’?
Haven’t heard these questions before, have you? You’ve been spending so much time on social media or with your face in a video screen watching a game, or a show with stars and dollar signs in your eyes.
Let’s talk about becoming a rap star. Since I have had a successful career in broadcasting, I know about production, studio time, and the like. I’ve laid out the basics for some of my former students with a semi-good flow from their mouths, but lousy grades. Check this out: The average ‘shelf life’ of a rapper is about three or four years…and that is IF they have some success with their mixtapes. There are a LOT of things involved with the music industry, such as the ‘rights’ to your music, paying for studio time on your way up, hiring the right producers, accountants, and getting your music played on commercial stations for the public to hear. Plus, you have to eat and have a place to live while you are awaiting that ‘big break’.
Studio time bills don’t wait until you are successfully ‘making it’. You’ve got to pay your dues–and your bills–on the way up, or you don’t progress. Life ain’t fair, but it is REAL.
In the KJV Bible, Jesus Christ notes in Luke 14:28 that one must ‘count the cost’ of being a Christian. His point? In anything that you do, there is a cost involved. IF one does NOT understand the cost, when the bill comes due, one will NOT be fully prepared to take part in the issue at hand. That’s why, when someone fails at a career, and they have not counted the cost, nor have a Plan B in their lives, they are quick to fall victim to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide. All because they didn’t have a Plan B.
What is a young person to do? Simply stated, find out what you can about what you intend to enter as a career. Job shadowing is the process to do it. This is where a student may make arrangements to spend a day or two at the job site of a person whom they admire (in their local area) and see the ins and outs of what they do. All it takes is a letter from the student to that person or business to inquire when may be the best time for a ‘job shadow’. This simple tactic will put the serious career seeker ahead of their competition. This is a part of ‘counting the cost’ of your future career. This is also smart career planning. This is a solid part of your Plan B.
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Book Reviewer, P-School Ranger, Modern Street Gangs Specialist and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. “The Ramey Commentaries” is one of a variety of columns that Ramey has in cyberspace. To drop him a line…or a whine…the address is still the same: firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2019 Barnstorm Communications.