I can’t begin to count the movies, books, and winners saying some variation of, “Just chase your dreams, you can be anything you want!” For most of us, that isn’t true. Gee, what a stick in the mud, you might be thinking. Maybe I am, or maybe I’m just a realist. I’m not saying it is bad advice, I’m just saying temper it with a sprinkling of reality.
If you want to be happy in life, the first thing that must fit in somewhere, is someone to share your life with. Whether it is a guy, a girl, a combination of both, a friend, or whatever you desire, the choice is yours. Until then, or if you don’t find a significant other, then get a pet or two. You need something to love, and to love you back. In some cases the pet might be the best choice. If you treat them kindly, they will love you unconditionally. That can seldom be said of the love you get from other people. In fact if you are in the United States and heterosexual, there’s a 50% chance you’ll end up divorced. If gay marriage becomes legal in all the states, I bet the number of divorces there, will run pretty close to the same percentage.
Part of the happiness you will have in a relationship is based on the financial security that you will have. I’m not saying money is everything, but you do have to eat and have a roof over your head. In the relationships you get into early in life, it isn’t expected that you will have much more than a dream of what you want to do with your life. The trick is that you must keep making progress towards that dream, or your significant other will lose faith, and move on. That isn’t to say if you fall once, give up and do something else. It is saying if you keep falling year after year, and you start to see your mate losing faith, be flexible enough to consider changing course.
As much as some of you may hate to hear it, a college education does make a difference. I didn’t have one, and was able to do better than most, but don’t bank on it. I could have been more secure if I did complete my degree. My father wanted me to go to college and had managed to set aside enough money for me to go. At eighteen I knew everything there is to know, like most kids that age, and I was going to prove I could be just as successful as him without a degree. I was tested numerous times and always fell somewhere in the genius category, so what did I need a degree for? Well, I failed. I ended up working for a leading technical University, and I was one of the most technically advanced people there, but I was just in the middle income bracket.
You are going to end up working the bulk of your life, whether you are a man or woman. Learn how to do something you like. It will probably be the single most important thing you can do to be happy in life. Play to your strengths. Are you good at drawing, or music, or sports? Whatever it is, be realistic in your comparison of your skills versus those at the top of the field you are interested in. You obviously aren’t there, or you would be at the top of the field. Next ask yourself is it something you can learn, to reach the top of the field. Here we come to the hardest aspect of facing reality. If you dream of being the next rock and roll guitar hero, compare your guitar playing to those around you. They are better, so keep learning. When you get to the point that there is nothing more left for others to teach you, and you are still miles away from those you admire. Then you probably won’t reach your goal. Sometimes it takes talent to reach that extra mile. In the process of this trip, did you learn enough to make a living at it? Is just working in the field going to be enough to both make you happy, and to allow you to make an equal contribution to the financial requirements of a relationship?
The same is true of someone with talents and capability in the sports industry. There are only going to be a few legends in each sport. Are you good enough to become one? Are you good enough to be a paid professional in the sport? Can you lean enough and improve your skills enough that by a reasonable age, you will have reached your goal. If you are pushing thirty, and you have never made it out of the minor leagues, you’ll probably not be a baseball legend. In the sports industry, it is especially important to have a fall back plan. People get hurt on a regular basis. Those injuries can knock you out of the sport at any age or point in your career. Do you know how to make a living doing something else? Lance Armstrong is an amazing example of someone overcoming adversity and still reaching the pinnacle of his sport. The reality question is, could he have overcome the loss of a leg and still been able to reach that same pinnacle? Even if he could, an even tougher question is do you have the drive that would enable you to overcome the obstacle?
Last but not least are religion and politics. They don’t make for good bedfellows. A politician will forever be tempted to abuse his power for favors and money. A politician and his family will always live under a microscope and be held to a level of scrutiny that almost no one can handle. If you decide to run for office, whether big or small, try to do your job with as much integrity and honesty as you possess. As for religion, the majority of all the people on Earth find comfort in some form of spiritual gathering led by church leaders of one religion or another. Keep in mind that more wars have been fought, and more people killed in the name of God and religion than for other reason. Churches are led by people, not God. People are capable of error and sin. So follow the spirit of God within you, not what people or religious leaders tell you. There are many religions on the face of this Earth, so be tolerant of others beliefs. It is the intolerance that has led to so much bloodshed in the past, and continues to do so in these current times. A simple rule to live by, that won’t contradict the tenants of any religion, is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is golden.
I never had a son or daughter to pass my thoughts on life to, so I’m putting the Cliff Note’s version here. It isn’t the type of advice you’d give a very young child. It is more of a reality check you would give someone in their late teens. That being at the time they are least likely to listen. The last little note is that for those who reach to very top of the heap in any industry or sport, they usually have to be so single minded in their pursuit, that they can focus on nothing but it. In doing so, they don’t do as well in other areas of their life, such as their relationships.