For longer than I’d care to admit, I’ve felt as though I’m waiting for my life to start. I could blame it on a bad breakup that took much too long to get over; I could blame it on the fact that I only recently finished my bachelor’s degree in information technology or I could blame it on the fact that I had four or five different jobs in one year.
But the fact of the matter is I’ve been holding out for a salvation of sorts. Not a holy trinity kind of salvation, but more of a “I’m struggling now, but sooner than later all these things will fall into place” kind of salvation.
Sooner than later, I’ll have just the right job, just the right look, just the right amount of money in the bank and just the right contacts. Life will feel as though I’m ready to live it, with all the necessary things taken care of; all my ducks in a row.
Throughout grade school and college, adults would always mention how things would be different in the future. “When you get to my age, you’ll understand” was the kind of talk that put me into this mindset.
As sage as that advice may be, it generated in me a certain paralysis. It made me feel as though my life and my reality were two separate things; the former a young oak tree growing slowly but surely, poised to eventually yield a comfortable spot in the shade.
In the past six months or so, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and/or read the story of people of all ages, backgrounds, belief systems and heritages. I’ve accomplished this through a combination of my job, reading Miami Diary 1896, being a part of The New Tropic‘s Street Team and otherwise building on my existing sense of wonder about and interest in other people’s lives.
The meetings have yielded a great epiphany: there’s one trait about peoples’ attitudes towards their own lives that I haven’t fully embraced. It’s called ownership.
Many of these individuals I’ve met completely own their lives, meaning they feel their time is now. Their time to do everything they’ve ever wanted to do is now; their time to feel confident and realized and really live life to its fullest is now. There’s no waiting around until your body grows into itself; there’s no waiting around until your job pays you that ideal salary; there’s no waiting around until you move out and buy a home.
Putting so much weight on an epiphany like this might seem silly to some. But for me, garnering this insight from my conversations with strangers over the past six months in particular has been eye-opening. I’ve often displayed a propensity to wait to do something until I know full well that it’s what I should be doing and that it’ll go well; similar to engineers who wouldn’t dare launch a rocket until its trajectory is clear. That kind of thinking might work well for rockets, but it’s definitely the wrong approach to life.
There is no perfect circumstance under which to begin living your best life. Confidence in this fact is made increasingly harder to adapt given social media, where people flaunt their lifestyle as aggressively as possible and make you feel as though you’ve got nothing unless you’ve got what they have.
Bad idea. The only perfection we can aspire to is a perfectly relentless, unabated and shameless pursuit and sense of ownership of our own lives, which is sure to be wrought with as many peaks as valleys, as many crests as troughs.
It’s a powerful realization that, in more colorful language often adopted by the angstiest amongst us, could be described as the philosophy of not giving a f***.
But I don’t like cursing if I don’t have to. Hence this nice, lengthy read.