The majority of my extended interactions with young adults energize me. I walk away from most of these conversations with optimism for the future and the sense that these folks are on a path that will lead to some degree of fulfillment. What are some of your key takeaways talking with people who are in the early stage of their adult lives?
Possibly because my predominant sentiment is so positive, the infrequent conversations I do have that leave me with the opposite feeling - call it mild dread for the person speaking - really linger. When I detect a clear wistfulness in the personal or career story of someone much younger than I, it gives me real pause.
The most recent story I heard tinged with regret from someone very young brought me immediately back to another one very similar in tone - if not specifics - from many years ago. I was still a young adult myself when the new husband of a friend told me how he already knew how his entire life was going to look. As that conversation continued - becoming more like a confession when he used the word "trapped" - I recall reverting to silence. To that point, I had been speaking of my passion for music - my main source of income then - my cross country driving and hitchhiking adventures, my spiritual goals, etc.
It's very possible I was crowing in that long ago conversation before a feeling of sadness for this young man overtook me and I shut my mouth. In the most recent conversation there was no crowing from this slightly wiser sixty seven year old; my coaching hat was on my much balder head this time. And the sadness I felt was more honestly earned.