Waking Up to the Person You Are, Not the One You Thought You'd Be
A Pep Talk for the Post-Pandemic Age
A few years ago, I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to be president.
Or a sanitation worker.
Or the proprietor of a landscaping service envisioned by my childhood self.
Reality Check: Dreams Change
I once aspired to be an astronaut, only to find out I couldn’t hack the math. I dreamed of being a doctor but found that chemistry and I are fundamentally incompatible. Does that mean I've failed? Far from it. I'm a professional writer, and while it may not be my sole source of income, it delivers a wealth of personal satisfaction and happiness.
So, why do we remain shackled by the expectations set by our younger selves? I think I found a clue based on a seemingly innocent social question: it certainly doesn't help when adults perpetuate this cycle by asking children what they want to be when they grow up. Let's be honest—most kids have as much of a clue about their future careers as they do about quantum physics.
Let's pivot the conversation. Stop asking kids what they want to be. Instead, ask, "What makes you happy?" That simple shift in inquiry could be the key to a future that aligns not just with a job title, but with genuine happiness. And who knows? That could turn out to be the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Daily Choices We Ignore
Do you realize that even amidst the dying embers of a global pandemic, you have countless chances every day to steer your life? You can be the person your 10-year-old self imagined, or pivot to someone entirely different.
More shockingly, you have the freedom to shrug off the expectations set by your parents, your religion, or society at large.
Risk-Taking in a Risk-Averse World
I’m no self-help guru, but I do think we all have a choice—even confined to our current jobs—to live life on our own terms. And let's dispel the myth that taking risks in a post-pandemic economy is "crazy."
The Only Constant is Change
Hal Shorey, PhD., stated in Psychology Today, "In 10 years, most of the cells that make up your body today will have died and been replaced by new ones." If your body is willing to go through an overhaul, why can't your aspirations and attitude do the same?
Side Hustle to Happiness
So, what's stopping us from leaving our unique imprints on our jobs, relationships, and yes, even our yards? Life is not a "reality" TV show scripted by someone else. It's time to write our own scripts.
In a world that often demands we fit into pre-established roles, a side hustle can be more than just an extra income stream—it can be a lifeline to personal fulfillment. Think of it as your private laboratory for passion and creativity, unencumbered by the expectations of bosses, colleagues, or even family.
Whether it's writing a blog, crafting custom furniture, or hosting a podcast, a side hustle allows you to channel energies that your day job may not tap into. It offers a playground for your latent talents and neglected dreams. In doing so, you're not just diversifying your income; you're enriching your life. When we engage in work that we love, even if it’s on the side, we turn up the volume on happiness and tune into a frequency that many spend a lifetime searching for.
The Privilege of Opportunity
To my fellow Americans, also consider what commentator Scott Galloway pointed out: "If you are healthy, have someone who loves you, and enjoy a household income greater than $34,000, you are in the top 1% globally." This isn't a call for unabashed nationalism; it's an invitation to reflect on our circumstances.
Yes, you might be talented and hardworking, but let's also recognize that your talents have found fertile ground in a system designed for innovation. We're fortunate to be in a nation that, despite its imperfections, provides us with opportunities many around the world can only dream of. So, while you're part of the global 1%, remember that with great privilege comes great responsibility—to yourself, your country, and to a world that could use a little more of what you have to offer.
To not even try is a choice that literally millions if not billions of humans across the globe find inexplicable.
A Timeless Reminder
Marcus Aurelius once cautioned, “Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.” Watching television, scrolling social media, and a life of lethargy shouldn't be your legacy.
Your life is unfolding now, in real time—not on your smartphone's screen.
It's Your Call
The choice is yours. You can go through the motions—work, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat—or you can seize this limited time on Earth to truly live.
So, what's it going to be?
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