At some point in adulthood, you find your footing. Everything makes sense. You get a handle on who you are and what you’re doing.
Mine came when I was about 23. I was working two jobs and graduated with my bachelor’s in business administration. I was promoted to management at one of my work places. I had a salary and a benefits package. I got my real estate license. I moved into my own home – a two bedroom, two bathroom, remodeled house in my state’s most beautiful town.
I had made it.
And then life pulls the rug out from under you. It reminds you that you’re still the same lost, confused, scared child you thought you’d left behind when your acne finally cleared up (turns out, acne comes back too).
So you ask your family for advice. And they give it to you. And it’s awful, irrelevant, and useless.
1. Just be yourself
Sure, you can be yourself.
Unless you’re trying to represent yourself in a professional situation. Then you should probably stop swearing and put on some pants and keep the dad jokes to yourself.
Or if you’re trying to start a YouTube channel. Then be yourself, only exaggerated. And pay close attention to what you’re saying and make sure it’s relevant to enough people that you’ll actually get views. But don’t do what everyone else is doing. But also don’t be too niche because nobody’s going to watch a series on inside jokes they’re outside of.
And maybe don’t drink as much.
2. Follow your dreams
So when was the last time you had a realistic dream?
What if my dream is to master telekinesis? Or read palms for a living on the coast of Maui? Or to find a guy who’s a 6’6″, bearded, 250-pound mountain of muscle and sex appeal but that eats like a normal human being and spends time with me instead of at the gym?
I think following your dreams happens for people who are born into privileged, easy lives. And it’s a wonderful ideal for everybody to spend their lives doing what they love. But for a lot of us, reality is a little harsher.
Even for unicorns.
3. Think positive!
I’m optimistic. I beat depression by stopping self-trash-talk. Positive thinking can do a lot!
But it’s not all you have to do. You have to work your ass off. You have to stay on the grind. Daily. Eternally.
“Just be happy” focuses on appearances. “Think positive” is both means and end. It’s your goal and the task you do to reach it.
It puts pressure on people to spend their time making sure everyone realizes how joyful they are.
I’m joyful. I’m happy. I’m making progress toward one day paying bills doing what I love.
But I still live in a shitty city and work a shitty job in a shitty industry serving shitty customers with their shitty needs despite their shitty attitudes. I have hard days sometimes.
And if I don’t do all this with a smile on my face, then I’m doing something wrong. People get concerned.
In an ideal world, we’re all genuinely happy being our genuine selves and able to make rent on what we genuinely love doing. But this isn’t that world. Someday, some of us will fake it enough that we eventually make it. For others, that day will never come. We can’t all be blessed.
And we’re all in this boat together. That’s why I write. That’s why I vlog. That’s why I talk to my friends and support them and fight passionately against injustice and nastiness.
Because a lot of us are starving, just trying to stay fed on the shit sandwich we’ve been served. We’re in this together.
Help each other. You can start by not repeating generic bullshit and actually listening to people who are hurting. You don’t have to fix them. You don’t have to give advice. But listen and show you understand. Because we all do.