I am now 22.
Anyway…because of my own green-ness and relative lack of experience, I feel as though I’m barely qualified to share my advice. Thus, instead of doing that, I’d like to share pieces of inspiration that have gotten me through tough times. It is my hope that they get you through yours as well.
1. Act your way into a new way of thinking
The founder of Habitat for Humanity – a man named Millard Fuller — had a great phrase: “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” I think it’s so true. During the Bible book, I wanted to be more compassionate. So I forced myself to go visit a friend in the hospital. I tricked my mind. And I became a little more compassionate.
In 2004, I wrote my first blog post. IT IS HORRIBLE! I say that Step #1 is knowing what you spend. That is exactly WRONG! I use the word “budget” multiple times. I have no narrative, only boring information.
In short, I hate myself of 2004.
But at least I got started.
You are a college fucking sophomore. You don’t know shit. No one is asking you. You are here to do gopher work until you have enough experience to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way. I know you think you know what you are doing–I thought I was the smartest person on earth when I was your age–but I didn’t know shit, and neither do you. Your job here is this: Shut up. Do what we ask. Listen to what we say. LEARN. The only things you should feel confident about giving opinions about are these things: [this space intentionally left blank]
I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.
5. Question Rules
Doing what you’re supposed to do does not make you a good person. There’s no one keeping track, ready to award you a special ribbon for staying inside the most lines. There is not. But you know what there is? A good chance at any moment that something could come along and render the past irrelevant and the future non-existent. And at that time, all your notions about rules and waiting and feeling superior aren’t going to matter.
You’re going to wish that you did what needed to be done. That you didn’t let restrictions restrict you.
Dying to share this one. I harbour no hard feelings against anyone who is following the rules. Just know that you aren’t guaranteed the reward.
6. Forget About Others
Most people are lying when they describe what their life is like. Don’t listen, don’t use what they say as a baseline, don’t get jealous, just nod and then forget it.
7. Love is Stronger than Hate
I was once asked, “Which one is more powerful, love or hate?” I answered the question this way: I would run into a burning building, risking my life to save someone I loved. But I would not run into a burning building and risk my life to kill someone I hated.
8. Don’t Confuse Genius and Precociousness (Early Success)
Ben Fountain’s rise sounds like a familiar story: the young man from the provinces suddenly takes the literary world by storm. But Ben Fountain’s success was far from sudden. He quit his job at Akin, Gump in 1988. For every story he published in those early years, he had at least thirty rejections. The novel that he put away in a drawer took him four years. The dark period lasted for the entire second half of the nineteen-nineties. His breakthrough with “Brief Encounters” came in 2006, eighteen years after he first sat down to write at his kitchen table. The “young” writer from the provinces took the literary world by storm at the age of forty-eight.
I had promised myself I would ship this post by September 6, and I am late by a several hours. I’ve found that the most important promises are the ones we make to ourselves; unfortunately, they are also the ones that we break the most (wow, that sounds really cheezy, but I’m serious).
Dream big. Live well (because it’s the best revenge). If you doubt yourself, don’t sweat it – you are good enough.
To my friends who follow my work closely – finally, a post without mentioning either Kanye West or Tim Ferriss. (UNTIL THAT SENTENCE – you know I had to do it! Plenty of both to come.)
Seriously though, thank you for reading. Onward and upward.
May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows.
- Jay Z, Young Forever
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