Does your school have a lot of extra-curricular activities on offer? Most do. My son’s school has a huge list of sports alone. And for kids who don’t like getting sweaty, there is music, drama, science, films, debating and, even, cake decorating. Plenty to choose from.
When the new term’s list came home, I urged him to get involved and join up.
“Why?” he asked. “I spend enough time at school and then have to do my homework in the evening. Why should I bother?”
Good question and I’ve never really thought about it properly.
Obviously, if there’s a club that offers the chance to do the thing you are passionate about – football, cricket, chess, whatever – then that’s fantastic and you should sign up immediately.
However, there are quite a few teenagers, like my son, who aren’t perhaps the joining in kind or who, when they didn’t find a club for playing the Wii and eating crisps, gave up looking. What’s in it for them?
There is the argument that says if they don’t give things a decent try, you won’t know what they’re missing. There are a great many benefits from joining in, even if it isn’t something that appeals very much.
A new club or activity will let you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise – you can make friends with likeminded folk.
You’ll have something to talk about. Adult life is full of moments where you have to make conversation with people you might not really want to speak to. Getting through those moments is a skill and having a pool of topics, such as your hobbies, to draw from will make it much easier.
You will have something worthwhile to put on your CV that will let future employers know what kind of a person you are. It will also set you apart from other candidates.
Your hobby can be used to demonstrate why you are the very person that employer is looking for. For example: if they need a team player then you’re participation in hockey will help; if they need someone creative, the fact you designed the sets for the school show is good news; if they want a problem solver, making robots from junk can illustrate your ability.
Schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme – as well as being great fun and very satisfying – are like putting a huge gold star on your applications for further education and jobs.
If you are still convinced there’s nothing on offer that suits you, then set something up. There is nothing stopping you – and your friends – from getting together to start group, organise an event or get involved in the local community. I’ll bet if you start to show some enthusiasm, your school and other organisations will be delighted to help you. And that will be an even bigger star for your future.
Playing the Wii and eating crisps might be great fun, but they will still be there after you’ve had an adventure, met new people and improved your career prospects.