There are very few universal truths, but this is certainly one of them. EVERYONE STRUGGLES. That is a given. If you are very fortunate, you get to choose most of your struggles. You never have control over everything, but in some cases you can choose things, like starting a business, that are a struggle.
For most of us, we are seemingly handed a set of things to overcome in our lives. Some of these things may not be readily apparent, others are glaringly obvious. For some, the deck is stacked against them to a higher degree: small town, inner city, abject poverty, a family with drug and/or alcohol abuse, you name it. We all have our struggles to overcome. The question is, at what point do you embrace the suck and start working to change the course of your life?
I grew up on a small farm outside a small town in rural Pennsylvania. The only thing my hometown was known for was the horrible stench of the PH Glatfelter Paper Mill where many of the people who lived in that town worked. The funny thing is, no one noticed the smell because they were around it all the time. We all were immersed in the smell constantly, so it became a part of our reality. We were like fish unknowingly swimming in water. It was a part of our world, and we didn’t know any different. I had no idea how bad it was until I moved away and returned to visit a year later. My eyes burned, my throat itched, and I have a tingling sensation in my lungs t the entire time I was there. It made me glad I moved away, but it turns out there was more than one reason to be happy about that. Living in a small town like that, it is easy to catch a very serious condition…that condition is MYOPIA.
Myopia is when you have a lack of foresight, or by an eye doctor’s definition, you are nearsighted. You lose the capacity to have a “vision” of the world at large around you. When you grow up in a certain environment it is easy to fall into the trap of “this is my life” and that you are somehow destined to live your life like those around you. For me, it seemed at an early age I was destined to join the family business and work away in a manufacturing job for the majority of my life. That’s what my Dad’s father and his two brothers did, and many of the other men in the family did as well. It was the easy path, the path of least resistance, a given that you would toil and struggle, but have some small level of “security” in doing so.
Luckily for me, my mom’s parents had broken free of this, despite being in a very similar position themselves for many years. Through a little luck and a ton of hard work, they made it out, retired early, and purchased a home in Phoenix. They were “snowbirds”, living in PA during the hot summer months of Arizona and then avoiding the harsh winters of PA. We would visit them in February, shoveling snow off of the driveway to be able to drive to the airport for the trip. We went from knee deep snow to suntans and cloudless skies for two weeks. It was culture shock being in such a big city and in a desert climate. I loved to visit, but when the topic of moving there was brought up, I was less than thrilled. But suffice to say it changed the course of my life in a lot of ways.
We did not have any money when we moved to Phoenix, times were difficult to the point of my grandparents bringing groceries to the house on a weekly basis for some time. When my Dad did get a job that paid decent money, things turned around and elevated us to lower middle class status, I guess. When I started playing racquetball, I was able to interact with people of all ages and economic status, and I slowly started to realize that things could be different. I started taking mental notes, asking more questions. I may not have even realized it at the time, but I was planning my own escape.
I want you to realize something very important…
YOU ARE NOT STUCK.
In today’s world, you have every opportunity to change your life and make a different future for yourself and your family. And I am not talking about buying lottery tickets, I am talking about putting in the work and creating your own new and improved path into the future. You can borrow money to go to school on line while working one or even two jobs. I did it, I worked in medical devices sales, 70 hours a week on average, and finished school through University of Phoenix (online). You can too. If you read the above paragraphs you know I did not come from a life of privilege. With the right motivation, you can move mountains. Changing the course of your life can feel exactly like that, but it can be done. If you don’t have marketable skills now, you can acquire them. You can live lean and save money in some cases. You can work more than one job to make ends meet. You can move away from your current living situation and improve your chances of future success.
Now, all of that being said, I will warn you that it won’t be easy. And it will take longer than you would like it to, but it can be done. IT CAN BE DONE. I have done it, people far worse off than I have done it. You can too. But if you do not have the desire to wallow in social mediocrity, live in economically depressed conditions, inhabit a city riddled with violent crime, etc., you can change things. And I think you could do it in two years time. Now twenty-four months may seem like an eternity when you struggle on a daily basis, but in the grand scheme of an average life of 70 years, think of how small a percentage of your life that is. And how is it not worth it?
I want you to understand, you are not alone. WE ALL HAVE SOME STRUGGLE that we have to overcome. We have seemingly be saddled with a life lesson to learn as part of our time here on Earth. Some lessons are existential, others are front and center or food on the table and a roof overhead. Whatever your brand of struggle is, you are not alone. Every human being on the planet is fighting a battle of some kind, and for most, it is not just one thing. The real question is, do you have what it takes to change your life Or, maybe a better way to ask that is:
Do you BELIEVE you can learn, grow and adjust along the way to have what it takes to change the course of your life?
I believe you can. I believed I could, and slowly but surely, I did it. I didn’t have a handbook or a tour guide to do it, I just kept stepping forward until I got there. Yes, I did need to back track on occasion, take a sidestep once in a while, etc. But I kept going, and I keep going today. There is no end to that journey until they close the lid to the pine box you are buried in. There is no finish line.