Growing up, I think we all liked to believe that we were destined for greatness. We’d have the perfect job, maybe even be a famous actor or athlete — something that brought recognition and respect from others. It’s wonderful to be so youthful and truly feel like the world is your oyster and one day you’re going to take it. That quintessential life, the job, the spouse, the things you’ll own, places you’ll go; it’s all coming and there’s nothing that can stop it.
The Hollywood script that our youthful selves envisioned conjured images of constant stimulation and excitement. For a lot of us, reality starts to dampen that sense of adventurous hope, and for too many young adults, life hits a point of, “I guess this is it for me.” Sure, you’ve got that one friend who turned out to be a professional athlete. One guy you knew in high school has a band that’s taking off, or maybe even one buddy whose tech startup went big. For you and the rest of your peers, a feeling of inadequacy starts to set in.
That’s not to say that you are disappointed in your life or what you’re doing; I know I’m not in mine. But I’ve also had an inner monologue that’s told me from time to time, “This isn’t exactly how I expected things to go.”
Good news: practically no one expected the cards to fall how they did, but you have to realize that this isn’t the only hand you’re going to play with in your life. While they may be ever changing and evolving, the important thing is that you still have goals and passion, and your pursuit of those is what living the dream really is all about.
Count me among the many who’s said that the real world sucks and that I wish I didn’t have to grow up. Figuring out what you’re doing with your life is frustrating as hell. However, the beautiful thing about growing up is that exact same reason. You get to figure out what you’re doing. No more dreaming and waiting; you finally get to call the shots. You’re no longer an adolescent with no say in life, and hopefully, you’re not reading this from a computer at your local correctional facility.
The grandiose plan of the perfect worry-free life you set out for yourself may not have come to fruition exactly as you wished it, but truthfully, I’d prefer the grind of the real world. You know what you have is good, and you can still hold on to constantly strive for something better.
I’ve started to realize that instead of being downtrodden, I have to decide what to do with my life instead of being responsibility-free. I should be nothing short of thrilled. Life is likely never going to be how you drew it up in your childhood, but why the hell should it? Would you trust your younger-self to give you any advice about life now? Go ask a teenager for life advice now and get back to me after you hear their ridiculous suggestions. Still, maybe the pipe dreams you yearned for when you were younger are still holding true; I know teenage me held a strong ambition to one day do something with writing.
Or, maybe now you have different goals. That career you never really thought about before but now is starting to appeal to you looks in reach. There’s a hobby that you’ve recently become involved in that is something you truly love. Three years ago, I would’ve never told you that my top goal in life was to be a great father, but time has a funny way of showing you what can make you happy.
The important thing is that you’re enjoying your present life while still continuing to pursue ever-changing goals. Listen to Shia and make your dreams happen while enjoying and appreciating the hell out of everything on the way.
Growing up doesn’t mean that you’re selling out your childhood dreams. Instead, you’re just acknowledging that what’s really going to make you happy changes. Frankly, you shouldn’t be completely satisfied with where you are at any point in life, but that doesn’t mean each phase isn’t enjoyable in its own right. When we stop wanting to further our lives and stop improving things daily is when life actually becomes boring.
It’s not childlike to continue to want to make things different; it’s only childlike when you don’t actually take the steps to pursue that change. The only thing that could convince me that my life is letting me down is if I roll out of bed one morning and realize that there’s nothing else I want to achieve.
I’ve got a personal theory (without trying to start a religious war here) that Heaven sounds like the most boring place. If everything is essentially perfect, what is there to keep you motivated and hungry? Sitting back and saying to yourself, “Well everything is exactly right where I want it to be in every aspect of everything, no changes needed here,” doesn’t sound wonderful — it sounds like a horror movie. Life is really all about that human need to always have a goal sitting there like a carrot in front of a horse. You can take flawlessness and satisfaction as your version of an optimal existence, but if one’s constantly looking to achieve something more and reach a new height, then that’s the real pie in the sky.
Often we refer to someone else with, “Oh that person is living the dream.” And a lot of times, sure, they’ve got great things going for them. But no matter what, so do you.
I’m talking about the things that you’re working towards and have yet to come. When I was younger, I envisioned my mid-20s working in some fast-paced career, making bank, dating babes, essentially being Patrick Bateman without the psychotic tendencies. Currently, I’m a mid-twenties single dad, splitting most of my time between struggling to get my business going, and hanging out with my kid. And things for me are their own strange form of ever-evolving perfect. I’ve got plenty of goals that I plan on pursuing, and some that I’m sure haven’t even occurred to me yet. Regardless, I’m not satisfied with where I’m currently at, but I’m still damn happy with what I have going on. I’m gonna keep living my dream, you keep living yours too. .
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