We’re told in high school to figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives, so we can be taught the necessary skills in college and eventually start our careers. But how the hell does a 16-year-old know what his 30-year-old self wants to be doing? Can you imagine if you had to follow every high school idea you ever had? I for one would be married to a drastically different person. But then why should we follow our high school self’s ideas when it comes to a career?
In high school, most of us just try and fit in, never straying too far from center. Following our parent’s advice all the way to college where we choose a career path, that again, doesn’t stray too far from center. Flash-forward 10 years and you’re a consultant or a sales guy in a career you don’t love, wishing you had pursued sports writing, acting, law, music, investment banking, or even cooking. You may regret the years when you prioritized having a good time with friends over mastering your passion, wondering if it’s too late to turn back. But is it? When is it time to give up your dream?
To answer this question, each of us has to view our lives as a long path through the woods. We all start on a one-lane path, then eventually it splits, we choose a direction to follow and continue on that path for years and years. Each passing year enjoying new things, making new friends, getting promoted, starting a family, while the other alternative path gets further and further away. So then if one day you think you don’t like the path you’re on, the only way to switch to the other path and to follow your dream, is to turn around and go all the way back to when the path split. Strip it all down and go back to the fork in the road. Giving up most of the things you enjoyed/gained along the way. Because if you’ve ever gone hiking before, not all of your friends and family will be thrilled or will even follow you when you turn around.
So the short answer? It’s never too late to give up on your dream. But the further along in your life, the more you’ll have to give up and the harder it will be to get back to the beginning. So if you are prepared to give up some friends, family, your job, and think you have the years of patience to go back to the beginning and even more years of patience to then pursue a different career path, then by all means, follow your dream. But like most of us, if you don’t want to sacrifice everything you’ve accomplished, then luckily there is an alternative. Just tweak your dream a little.
When we’re young we have wild expectations for our future, and as we age our memories of the past are always better than the reality. That touchdown in high school is now 90 yards instead of 60. That article in the school paper is Pulitzer winning and not just on page 5. So when we picture our dream job, it’s not just as a sports writer, it’s as Mike Wilbon or Bill Simmons. Not just a musician who plays at weddings around town, but the next Bob Dylan. Because why wouldn’t it? It’s our “dream,” right? But instead of sacrificing everything to follow a career path that could lead to a life like Bill Simmons’, just tweak your dream a little to be realistic.
I am a financial consultant whose dream is to be a writer. But I realized I didn’t have the platform to become a JK Rowling or John Grisham overnight. So instead, I tweaked my dream to just publish one book. I removed everything from my daily life I didn’t need, like working out or watching TV, then filled all that new free time with writing. I did this for 28 days straight because after that amount of time, I could at least say I tried. Every hour not working, sleeping, cooking, or doing errands, I was writing. After 28 days I had a couple chapters of my book, From Bud to Blow, and thought it was surprisingly good. So I finished it. And the craziest part? It didn’t even feel like I tweaked my dream at all. It felt like I was JK Rowling.
Because what I realized is, it’s not the fame or fortune that makes it a dream. It’s the act of doing it. Writing is my passion. So holding a book I wrote from cover to cover, was the dream the whole time. No need to sacrifice my family, friends, or even my job to become the greatest writer of our generation, I just needed to follow my passion.
So you’re in real estate but want to be a musician? Then practice guitar every night and on the weekends for 28 days straight and see if you can book a gig. You’re a sales guy who wants to be a brew-master? Then brew beer during your free time. Because the feeling of selling just one 6-pack of your own made beer or hearing applause from the crowd at a bar will feel like the dream.
Is it time to give up your dream? For most of us, yeah probably, because that dream was unrealistic to begin with. But you don’t have to live with regret over a decision you made in high school anymore, because one small tweak and you can still follow your passion on the path you’re currently on.
-- Posted on The Good Men Project
College life is fake life. Class three hours a day (if you even go), nothing on Fridays, smoking and binge watching an entire TV show or drinking till bar close on a Tuesday. It’s a young adult utopia. So how do you transition out of that? How could you possibly survive in the real world? Simple. Tone it down a little.
People act like leaving that lifestyle is some big mystery. I go on recruiting visits to different colleges and get asked all the time “how do I prepare myself for the real world?” or “what can I do to better myself moving forward?” And I just look at these kids and want to tell them “well I’m hungover as shit sitting here right now, so you tell me?” As if I volunteered to go on the recruiting trip to actually recruit and not just drink on my company’s dime at a college campus again. And let’s not even talk about the recruiters themselves. Most were such big partiers in college they couldn’t get the actual job, so they joined the recruiting team.
At some point the phrase “the real life” was created, and since then people have looked down on college kids like they are these incompetent and immature idiots. But how long has it been since you were on the other side of that hate? One year? Three years? Weren’t we all those college kids at some point?
See, the biggest problem I have with “real life” is that the people are actually fake. You can call college life fake all you want. Because it is. It’s a bubble that 18-22 year olds live in for four years, then it pops and they go back to having normal schedules and responsibilities. So sure, it’s fake. But what you can’t say is the people themselves are fake. They are as real as it gets. If I had a group project in college, there was no beating around the bush with scheduling. We would tell each other if we had party plans, admit if we were hungover, call people out if they didn’t do their work, we were real. And we always got everything done on time.
In “real life” people walk around the office like robots and act like they’ve been these true-blood professionals their entire lives. It’s as if their personality is sucked from their body every time they walk in the office. But just three years ago those same people were probably Googling if their company drug tested while waiting to be interviewed by a hungover recruiter. So what happened in three years? Where did their personality go? You ever wonder why company parties get out of control? Because the alcohol turns everyone back from robots to real. And people just aren’t used to being real in the real world.
So ok, yes, you will have to adjust to waking up before noon on a weekday. But you did that from ages 6 to 18. The only difference is now you’ll be getting paid to wake up early. So you’ll live. All you need to do is tone it down a little. Party twice a week not four times. But even then, the older you get the less you want to party. That’s not just Hollywood talk about “getting old.” That shit’s real. It’ll hit you too.
But regardless, a note to college kids reading this: We were you. We still are you. The only difference is we’ve had to slowly add responsibilities to our lives starting the day we graduated. That’s it. There is no rude awakening, nothing you need to prepare yourself for, you just get a job and start working. It’s like starting a new class. The first week is confusing, but they tell you exactly what you need to do, so just do that, learn on the fly, find the right times to slack off, and make sure you always get your shit done. Don’t turn into a robot, don’t get your personality sucked out of you, just be prepared to tone down the vices a little bit.
Ultimately just imagine yourself two years from now… Great, be that guy. Because that guy has gotten you this far.
-- Posted on Namaste Newsline
Everyone thinks internally when they read. Not selfishly, just internally. If I say “my high school gym”, you’ll think of your high school gym or a gym you know well. If I say “I walked into the bar”, your brain will populate the image of a bar you’ve been to. If I say “she was the bitchiest mom I’d ever met”, well, hopefully you don’t think of your own mother. But you get the point. Our brains aren’t complex enough to create new images on the fly. We use ones we already know, and tweak them based on descriptions. But if you know the person who wrote it personally, your brain will see them talking about their high school gym, the bar they go to, and the bitchiest mom growing up.
This is the #1 thing I learned from writing a book. Not the book publishing industry, not how much free time I really did have, but that if I write “ex-girlfriend” my friends will think of my ex-girlfriend. It’s no mystery that I wrote a fictional book that sounds a lot like my life. I was at Indiana University from 2009-2013, I was in ATO during that time (disclaimer: pre-CNN), I went into college with a girlfriend, I was a business major, the comparisons are obvious. But what I thought would happen, was that the people who know me would recognize the comparisons, but see the obvious differences and read the story separately.
“Oh, Brian used his surroundings as a template to create this fictional story.”
– Brian Connor’s naïve thought in February of 2015.
I never sold drugs. I’ve never been to Vegas with my friends. I’ve never even lived in a fraternity house. And people who know me, know this. But somehow their mind populates me into this character, and next thing I know I’m getting asked by a manager at work about what it’s like to get shot at. It’s been surreal.
Strangers who don’t know me might see my picture on the back and use that image as the main character, but we all did that with Harry Potter anyway, so no biggie (um, how fucking lucky was Daniel Radcliffe that he looked like the drawing on the first book?). But strangers don’t think I myself was involved in a drug-ring or was hazed until I bled, because they don’t know who I am so don’t even think about me. But some of my friends think I bled. Friends of friends think I sold coke to fraternities. And it’s really weird.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s because my network doesn’t know fictional writers. Some dude from my high school doesn’t think Suzanne Collins was actually in the Hunger Games or E. L. James is this erotic SMH fiend like the chick from 50 Shades of Grey. Because that high school dude doesn’t know them, so their brain populates other images from their lives. But I guarantee E.L. James’ friends and family view her differently since that came out, and I would bet money that Suzanne Collins’ friends wonder who in her life is Gale and Peeta.
My only response to everyone? I didn't think I was a good enough writer to create this 100% fake universe like George RR Martin did, so I needed a guide. And I used that guide to create this fictional story.
But even then, I wonder if George RR Martin’s friends think he wants to bang his sister?
*Yes I know this is a parody account... still a funny tweet!