I am so lucky to have had a father that set an example of not listening to the masses and follow the herd. He tried a lot of different things over the course of his working career, and of course had a mix of successes and failures. But one thing he didn’t do was to accept much of the life that was handed to him; he took action to change the life he had into a life that was more along the lines of what he wanted.
I have learned by example that I need to LIVE my life, not just accept it as it is handed to me. I didn’t want to just follow the “normal path” of college, corporate job, wife, kids, etc. all by the age of 30. This is what many of my peers in high school did or tried to do, and seeing them at our ten year high school reunion confirmed my suspicions. Those who did pursue this path had the kids and the house, but they also had put their dreams aside to achieve this. Some are happy with their choices, but I can tell you after many conversations with this group and lots of others, so many people have taken the safe route. They have chosen to follow the herd and do what everyone else has done, and there is a price for that.
I didn’t want to follow this path, and I was fortunate that despite some protests from the family that I chose to pursue a dream of mine anyway. I was handed a life of “normal”, a clear path that others follows that I could too. I went to community college for a year, and then on to university, because “that’s what people your age do”, I was told. I was on the path, that well-worn path that so many others follow. This path is littered with dead dreams, endless possibilities, and risk/reward opportunities on both sides of the pathway. I had the chance to go a different route, and I took it. I wanted a life I could LIVE, and then look back on later, fondly and proudly, knowing I took the chance. I didn’t have any guarantees of success by any stretch of the imagination, and I didn’t even have a real plan mapped out at the time I decided not to return to school in the Fall of my sophomore year. But I had one key piece of the puzzle in place, and in the end that is all that I needed.
I had faith in myself and my ability to figure things out as I go.
I knew that I could deal (well enough) with the uncertainty of not seeing the whole journey laid out in front of me. I could live with the idea that I could only see the next step in the process, not all of them. If I was going to pinpoint one strength that I think you need to develop, it would be this. Since you never really get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable, at least get used to being uncomfortable. That way the fear of the unknown does not hold you back or even keep you from starting in the first place. Here is something else to consider that I don’t think is shared enough…there is very little to be done that can’t be undone or done later. For example, my family was convinced that I would ruin my life chasing this dream, but also that I would not go back to school like I said I would. I was likely to end up in a dead end job with no prospects and no chance for advancement because I didn’t finish college.
I made good on that promise, and even to the tune of doing online school through University of Phoenix while working about 70 hours a week in medical sales. It was a struggle, but I did it. I assumed at that point that I would need to have a degree to have opportunities presented to me, so I finished what I put on hold. I couldn’t have done it the other way around, I wasn’t motivated enough to go to school and then try to chase that dream. It had to be the way I did it if I was going to do it at all.
My point of all of the above is this: You need to understand you can MAKE a life you want to life instead of just accepting the one you have been handed. If you are not happy where you live, save up the money and move. Yes, it is possible, people do it frequently and under far worse circumstances than you may currently be in. If you hate your job, save up some money and get the heck out of there. We all spend far too much time at work to be miserable there. If more education would make a difference, go get it. Borrow the money if you need to, but do what is needed to change your circumstances. No one is coming to rescue you, especially the government, so stop waiting on a free ride and make your own life better. Take action and take control. Don’t just accept what is handed to you, fight for something better. Fight for a life that you want to live. Human beings are some of the most flexible and malleable creatures on Earth, don’t sell yourself short. You can do it. People in tougher situations than you have done it, therefore you can too.