I’m writing this for the rest of you in your twenties who like me, has no idea what they want to do with the rest of their life. Realistically I’ve wanted to be a thousand different people. I mean, who doesn’t want to be Harvey Spectre in Suits, a walking talking kick-ass lawyer who makes things happen. I do. Or what girl out there hasn’t dreamed of living the life of their favorite actress, model or songwriter. The problem with our twenties is this, we aren’t in the movies. Chances are your twenties will be spent broke, but its okay, at some point in his life Dwayne Johnson had seven dollars to his name and Eric Thomas lived on the streets of Detroit, now look at them. We may not be in the movies but surely, we have our own script that hasn’t been written yet, but the problem with it is, where do we start?
Sitting here writing this makes me have a whole new respect for movie film artists, who create an entire world in their mind and throw it into a film. I’m finding it hard enough creating my own. It was Zig Ziglar who said, “we are engineered for success” and “you have greatness within you”. Do I believe this to be true? Absolutely. I think all of us have some unwritten path which we’ve always known we would travel but life’s distractions has beaten a thousand other paths which we hop on from time to time.
Take high school for example, there are some who go through high school, sometimes even middle school with a destination. You have the Sally Smarts and Gerry Genius’ who are gonna be doctors and nurses like their parents. On the other side of the token, you have Johnny Jiggers who knows he wants to be an iron worker because he can’t stand school, homework or professors. Then there are the unfortunate ones who have been misled throughout their lives who never made it past high school because the smoke pit was the most important part for them. My question has always been this, where does this leave me?
Where I come from, if you build houses, become a crab fisherman or drink bud light you’re on the right path, some would say. Of course, I love where I’m from and I love all of those fishermen and carpenters and beer drinkers. In fact, I’ve become a carpenter myself, and I drink bud light. It was just one of those paths that was already beaten for me. It was like a bike path you could walk down without tripping in branches or getting your legs ripped by the brush. It was comfortable. But, I want to jump off this path and jump into my own. I want to feel my shoes fill with water, my legs getting ripped by the brush and trip over a few branches and bust myself open a couple of times because I know in the end that’s where I will find what I’m looking for. I won’t find it here on this path, I’ll find what my Dad found, who is a carpenter and drinks Bud light, I’ll find a routine. I love my father, and his work ethic is second to none which I’ve always respected. But even he told me, I’m meant for more.
At twenty-three, I’ve made most mistakes you can make. I want to list them off for all of you just so you know you’re not alone but I’m not sure if I’ve told my family all of them yet, actually I know I haven’t, I don’t want to dig my grave here. But through all of those mistakes, I’m here, writing you this because even those mistakes and those already beaten paths that promise comfort couldn’t keep me away from what I really want, which is answers, what will I do with the rest of my life?
Like you, I have dreams. We aren’t all going to invent our own APP and make millions. But more importantly, we are going to find out what it is we want, what we desire, because we deserve more. To list a few, I’ve wanted to be a police officer, a heart surgeon, a carpenter(believe it or not), a lawyer, a dentist and I’ve thought about joining the armed forces a few times, specifically after I read the novel, “American Sniper” by Chris Kyle. The problem with most of my ambitious career choices is this, almost all of them has been handed to me in my mind as the “perfect career” by an external source. Let me explain. When I first watched Grey’s Anatomy, I was set on being Preston Burke, the number one Heart surgeon in the country who never loses his cool and who has it all figured out. After watching Criminal Minds or Homeland, working my way to a detective looked enticing and it looked like me.
I know what you’re thinking! Surely, it is possible I can do one of these things, maybe all of them. But it has to be because I want to, not because I like the idea of the life I watch on Netflix which has a pre-written script and is designed to attract people just like me.
Honestly, my new thing is wanting to travel the world. Maybe I’m looking for my niche in a career and a routine path when my Everest is waiting for me is Bangladesh working on a rice farm and getting to know the locals, who knows?
A friend once told me, ” imagine you are in the woods with a bow and arrow aiming at a target. You see the target clearly, slow your breathe, tense the line, you can hear yourself breathing, so still, you’re ready. Then a gust of wind sends a thousand leaves all around your target and you lose sight but you shoot anyway, and you miss. ” This is what I’ve done my entire life. I’ve spent my life shooting at the leaves, not the target. I don’t think people fail because they aim to high and miss, I think they fail because they aim to low and hit.
What I’m saying is this. So far I’ve went to university, dropped out of university, twice now actually. I’ve worked a busy street downtown where I live as a bouncer for a few years. I’ve unloaded fishing vessels more times than I want to count. I have been a bartender and served and hosted at many restaurants. I managed a comedy club called ‘Yuk Yuks” for a year before it closed down(which obviously I had no part in) and of course, I’ve worked off and on as a carpenter since age sixteen, which I’m currently doing now. I won’t drag you down the dark path when I worked at a fish plant. You’re welcome. But its important to note, most times later in life you will only regret the things you didn’t do, not the ones you did and failed at.
Some would say I’ve wasted the past six or more years out of high school just strolling through life. I tell them, “I was exploring my options”. That usually throws a sock in it. I mean not many have a response to that. I was a young kid coming out of high school with the world ready to eat me up, and it did. However, I know something now I didn’t know when I was a young punk who couldn’t grow facial hair(yep, I was the baby face in the class). I found out what I don’t want. I don’t want to just wake up everyday, just doing time. Going to the same job, with the same pay, seeing the same faces, absolutely miserable because I didn’t take the time to find out what my passion was. That erodes your self-esteem and I believe if you live a life like that, something in you dies, and I’m not sure you ever get that back.
The past six years has been some of the best and worst years of my life. It includes the loss of my mother, the loss of my grandfather who was my very best friend, I fell completely in and out of love with a girl I was telling people I’d spend my life with, and I jacked up 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 said in a speech one time, “don’t judge your possibilities based upon where your life is right now. Where your life is right now is not you, its just what it is right now”. I think what he means is at some point we’ve all been just “doing time”, but just make sure its a stepping stone to something bigger and better, not a lifetime.
For those of you who don’t know, Joe Frazier was a world class boxer, he held a record of 32-4, with 27 wins being knock outs. They called him “Smokin Joe”. You never expect boxers to make profound statements but he said, “at some point in your life, you’re going to be like the blind man, sitting at the corner lights, waiting for someone to come and help us across”. Sometimes we just want someone to hold our hand. I remember being that blind man, I remember how much more clearly I seen things when I finally had forgiven myself for where I had put myself in life. Don’t be so quick to throw the towel in on yourself. You’re gonna make it to the next round.
The irony is, becoming that blind man, helped me see more than I’d ever seen. One of the biggest tragedies to date, in my opinion is this. So many of us confuse what we do, with who we are. What I mean is, when did becoming the next Steve Jobs become more important than holding doors open and standing up for whats right? Or when was the last time you did something without any expectation for receiving something in return? We’ve forgotten where we came from, we’ve forgotten who we are, in the desperate battle to know what it is we want to do. I know I did, for a long time.
The moment you find yourself, you’ll find the answers. But knowing what I know now, one thing I would love to have had the chance to tell my seventeen year old self, about to jump into his twenties is this. Don’t lose the kid in you. Kids dream, out loud. When I was a kid nobody could tell me I wasn’t going to be the next Wayne Gretzkey, because I believed I could do it and as we get older we get the kid knocked out of us through the experience of life. We let someone stick a finger in our face and tell us we aren’t good enough. Most times its us, doing it to ourselves in the mirror. We lose our ability to dream.
In addition to the rest of this great knowledge I’m sharing with you, know this. Stay away from the negative people. Les Brown once said, “some people are so negative if they went into a dark room they would start to develop”. As clever and humorous as this is, he’s right. Some people just don’t want the best for you, actually a lot of them want the worst for you and they hate to see you get ahead. Birds of a feather flock together. You run around with negative people, sooner or later you’ll become one. Don’t let them take away your power, your drive. Keep your vision and focus on whats yours for the taking. You’re worth it.
If you take anything from this, know that, whatever it is you want, whatever it is you dream, its yours, its possible. I know your parents or someone you care about has told you that time and time again. But I’m telling you, I’m in my twenties, right next to you, and its true. This world is ours for the taking, we are the future. I heard a line once in the song called, “Old before your time” by Ray Lamontagne and it read this. “There’s nothing in the world so sad as talking to a man, who never knew his life was his for the taking”.
I could make a list of two-hundred things for you NOT to do in your twenties but I think the truth is in between the lines here. I still have no idea what I will do, but I do know I’ll never settle. I’ll chase whatever it is that’s waiting for me because I believe whatever you’re seeking, its also seeking you. But don’t become a “used-to-bee” person, these people stay in the past. You ever come across one of those? These people go around saying, ” I used to do this, I used to do that, or I used to be this”. Excuse me but, “Use-to-bees” don’t make any honey.
Go out and find your path and never forget to have fun doing it. Never lose who you are, where you came from and the goods you’re made of, that person will save your ass. Life works in funny ways and I believe if you take the responsibility to make this your year, to go out and take life on, I believe the universe is on your side. But. if by some chance you end up a carpenter who drinks bud light, don’t panic, we are only in our twenties.