I had a conversation about the future with a girl I know. The future can often be a very scary, very intimidating thing. For a person going through their 20s, there are all sorts of pressures to do things in a certain way. Expectations are placed by ourselves and by others. These expectations are not always fair, nor are they always reasonable.
She had a lot of uncertainty. A lot of worry. The conversation was littered with "What if's?" and "How's?" This is something I understand and can relate to with a great deal of empathy. We live in a society that tells us, essentially from birth, how our lives will be defined. The problem comes from the fact that these societal guidelines have left us with a feeling that one mistake will completely fuck up the path we are on. Your entire life will be determined by this one singular moment. A grade on a paper. A job opportunity missed. You lose and you're doomed.
I do not believe that life is so linear that I am defined by such individual events.
There are an infinite number of ways to arrive at whatever goal you have set out for yourself. The difference between these options and the "linear path" is the amount of work you are willing to put in to get what you want, and on top of that, how bad you really want what it is that you are working towards in the first place.
When you are overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, how can you feel confident in anything, much less in overwhelming and ominous future? How can you possibly begin to feel that things are going to be okay and that it's all going to work out in the end?
I guess you can only know so much. Eventually, there is an intersect of what you know and what you feel and what you believe. You have to find a balance in these elements. They all have their role to play, and if you ignore one of them, chances are you're going to miss out on something important in the grand scheme of things.
At times, things get bad. Things get awfully shitty in ways that you can't even dream. That is life. You can't change that. What you can do, however, is persevere. In front of you, you have something you want, but you have an obstacle in the way. You can call it quits, you can take the easy way out, or you can make compromises to try and keep things simple. But why would you do that? What do you really gain from that? How does that help you grow as a person? It doesn't. Even if you arrive at the destination you had planned on in the first place, when you look back, you will now see these compromises and regrets and mistakes staring back at you. Sure, maybe something worked out, but at what cost? Who did you leave behind? What did you sacrifice? Are you really happy with how it all went? With decisions such as these, you must consider the weight which will remain on your heart after the dust has settled.
Everyone is growing up. Teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirties and so on. These questions and situations don't go away. All they do is change. So what do you do? You listen, you learn, and you don't give up. The most powerful words of wisdom I can give to any person right now, regardless of what difficulty they are experiencing, is to just not give up. It's not easy. That's the point. Take a look at the people who took the easy way out. The dropouts, the druggies, the top 40 radio soccer mom trophy wives. They are all the same. They are one giant fucking sack of disappointing nothingness. They didn't have what it took to deal with the shit long enough to get what they really wanted, so they settled on being inadequate and they'll live that way for the rest of their shitty, TV dinner network comedy lives. Fuck that.
I would rather think "What if?" before I took on a challenge with everything I had, rather than think "What if?" and look back with a black hole of regret. A challenge, you can conquer. A regret, you can only try to find a way to live with.
I couldn't tell her exactly how it would go. I didn't know the specifics. Nobody ever does.
Life is about choices. These choices are yours to make, and yours to take responsibility for. They are for you to base upon what you want for yourself and for those that you care about. The pressures of society and misguided peers are worth absolutely nothing.
Work hard, stay honest, and don't give up on the people you love or the passions that you have.
It will all be okay.
"We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes."