I’m writing this for the rest of you in your twenties who like me, have no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I realistically wanted to be a thousand different people. I mean, who doesn’t want to be Harvey Specter in suits, the walking, talking, kicked out lawyer who makes things happen. I do. Or which girl has not dreamed of the life of her favorite actress, model or songwriter. The problem with twenty-year-olds is that we’re not in the movies. Chances are your twenties will be spent penniless, but okay, at one point in his life Dwayne Johnson had seven dollars in his name and Eric Thomas lived on the streets of Detroit, now look at them. We may not be in the movies, but we surely have our own script that has yet to be written, but the problem with it is where to start?
As I sit here writing this, I have a whole new respect for the filmmakers who make up the whole world in their minds and throw it into a movie. It’s hard for me to make my own. It was Zig Ziglar who said: “We are made for success” and “You have greatness in you”. Do I believe this is true? Absolutely. I think each of us has some unwritten path that we always knew we were going to travel, but the pastimes of life have taken a thousand other paths that we jump onto from time to time.
Take high school for example, there are those who go through high school, sometimes even junior high with a goal. You have Sally Smarts and Gerry Genius who will be doctors and nurses like their parents. On the other side of the token is Johnny Jiggers, who knows he wants to become a locksmith because he hates school, homework or teachers. There are also unfortunate ones who have been misled all their lives who have never made it through high school because the chimney was the most important part for them. My question has always been: where does this lead me?
Where I come from, if you build houses, become a crab fisherman or drink a light of donuts, you are well on your way, some will say. Of course I love where I come from and all those fishermen, carpenters and beer drinkers. In fact, I have become a carpenter myself and drink light donuts. It was just one of those paths that had already been cleared for me. It was like a cycle path that you could walk down without tripping over branches or tearing your legs apart by bushes. It was convenient. But I want to jump off this path and jump on my own. I want to feel my shoes fill with water, my legs are being jerked by the brush, I trip over a few branches and open a couple of times because I know I’ll find what I’m looking for in the end. I will not find it here on this path, I will find what my dad who is a carpenter and drinks Bud Light, I will find a routine. I love my father and his work ethic is second to none, which I have always respected. But even he told me that I was destined for more than that.
At twenty-three, I made most of the mistakes you can make. I want to write them down for all of you so you know that you are not alone, but I’m not sure I told all of this to my family, actually I know no, I don’t want to dig my grave here. But with all these mistakes, I’m here, I’m writing this to you because even those mistakes and those already beaten paths that promise comfort couldn’t keep me from what I really want, which is the answers, what will I do with the rest of my life?
Like you, I have dreams. Not all of us will invent our own app and earn millions. But more importantly, we’ll find out what we want, what we want because we deserve more. To name a few, I wanted to become a policeman, cardiac surgeon, carpenter (believe it or not), lawyer, dentist, and thought about joining the armed forces several times, especially after reading the novel “American Sniper” by Chris Kyle. The problem with most of my ambitious career choices is that almost all of them have been passed on to me as a “perfect career” by an outside source. Let me explain. When I first watched Grey’s Anatomy, I was set to become Preston Burke, the number one cardiac surgeon in a country that never loses his temper and has everything figured out. After watching Criminal Minds or Homeland, reaching the detective looked tempting and reminded me of me.
I know what you are thinking about! It is certainly possible that I can do one, maybe all of these things. But it has to be because I want to, not because I like the idea of life I watch on Netflix that has a script ready and is meant to attract people like me.
Honestly, my new thing is wanting to travel the world. Maybe I am looking for my career niche and routine path, when my Everest is waiting for me, does Bangladesh work on a rice farm and meet the locals, who knows?
A friend once told me, “Imagine you’re in the woods with your bow and arrow pointed at your target. You can see the target clearly, slow down your breath, tighten the line, you can hear your breath so you are still ready. Then a gust of wind sends thousands of leaves around your target and you lose your sight, but you still shoot and miss. ”This is what I have been doing all my life. I spent my life shooting leaves, not targets. I don’t think people fail because they are aiming for high and they miss, I think they are failing because they are aiming for low and hitting.
What I’m talking about is this. So far I went to university, left him, now actually twice. I worked on a busy street in the city center where I live for several years as a bouncer. I have landed fishing vessels more times than I want to count. I have been a bartender and have served and visited many restaurants. I ran the comedy club “Yuk Yuks” for the year before it closed (in which, of course, I had no part in), and of course I worked as a carpenter from time to time from the age of sixteen, which I am doing now. I will not drag you down the dark path while I was working in a fish factory. You’re welcome. But it’s important to remember that in most cases, you will only regret what you didn’t do later, not the ones you did and failed.
Some would say that I have wasted my last six or more years in high school walking through my life. I tell them, “I was exploring my options.” This usually tosses a sock at it. I mean, few have an answer to that. I was a young kid leaving high school and the world was ready to eat me, and it did. However, now I know something that I didn’t know when I was a young punk who couldn’t grow his face hair (yes I was the face of a kid in class). I found out what I don’t want. I don’t want to wake up every day, just rest. Going to the same job for the same salary, seeing the same faces, absolutely unhappy because I didn’t take the time to find out what my passion is. It undermines your self-esteem and I believe that if you live this life something dies in you and I’m not sure you’ll ever get it back.
The last six years have been one of the best and worst of my life. It includes the loss of my mother, the loss of my grandfather who was my best friend, I fell completely in love and fell out of love with the girl I told the people I spent my life with and collected about thirty thousand dollars in debt. I mean, life will catch you on the blind side and you won’t be ready. I wasn’t ready. Just relax, accept and move on. Les Brown once said in a speech, “Don’t judge your abilities by where your life is now. Where your life is now is not you, it is just what it is now. ” I think he meant that at one point we were all just “putting off time”, but just make sure it is a stepping stone to something bigger and better, not the rest of your life.
For those of you who don’t know, Joe Frazier was a world-class boxer, he had a record of 32-4 and 27 wins were knockouts. They called him “Smokin Joe.” You never expect boxers to make profound statements, but he said, “at some point in your life you will be like a blind man, sitting at the corner lights waiting for someone to come and help us.” Sometimes we just want someone to hold our hand. I remember being that blind man, I remember how much clearer I saw things when I finally forgave myself where I was. Don’t throw yourself so quickly. You will get to the next round.
The irony is that by becoming this blind man it has helped me see more than I have ever seen. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest tragedies to date. So many of us confuse what we do with who we are. I mean, when will becoming the next Steve Jobs become more important than keeping your doors open and fighting to do what’s right? Or when was the last time you did something without expecting you to get something back? We have forgotten where we came from, we have forgotten who we are, in a desperate fight to know what we want to do. I know it’s been like this for a long time.
The moment you find yourself, you will find the answers. But, knowing what I now know, one thing I wish I could tell my seventeen-year-old self, just before turning twenty is this. Don’t lose your kid. Children dream aloud. When I was a kid, no one could tell me I was not going to be the next Wayne Gretzkey because I believed I could do it, and as we get older we make the baby knocked out by the experience of life. We let someone put a finger in their face and say we’re not good enough. Most often it’s us, we do it to ourselves in the mirror. We are losing the ability to dream.
In addition to the rest of this wonderful knowledge that I am sharing with you, know this. Stay away from negative people. Les Brown once said, “Some people are so negative about a dark room that they will start to develop.” As clever and fun as it is, he’s right. Some people just don’t want the best for you, in fact many of them want the worst for you, and they hate to see you move forward. Feather birds flock together. You run with negative people, sooner or later you will become one of them. Don’t let them take away your power, your drive. Keep your vision and focus on what you have to take. You’re worth it.
If you take any of it, know that whatever you want, whatever you dream about is yours, it is possible. I know your parents, or someone you care about, told you this many times. But I’m telling you, I’m in my twenties right next to you, and it’s true. This world is ours for the taking, we are the future. I once heard a line in a song by Ray Lamontagne’s “Old Before Your Time” and read it. “There is nothing in the world as sad as talking to a man who never knew his life belonged to him.”
I could make a list of 200 things that you cannot do in your 20s, but I think the truth is between the lines. I still have no idea what I’m going to do, but I know I’ll never settle. I will chase whatever is waiting for me, because I believe that whatever you are looking for is also looking for you. But don’t become a “bee-used” person, these people stay in the past. Have you ever met one of them? These people go around saying, “I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing that, or been this.” Sorry, but “Useful Bees” don’t make honey.
Get out there and find your path and don’t forget to have fun doing it. Never lose who you are, where you come from and the goods you’re made of, that person will save your ass. Life works in a fun way, and I believe that if you take responsibility for making this year your own, going out and living it, I believe the universe is on your side. But. if you happen to find yourself in a carpenter drinking light donuts, don’t panic, we’re only in our twenties.