As I sit here writing this piece, approaching my 30th birthday, I thought it appropriate to use this month's blog to talk about some of the things I’ve learned in the 30 years of my existence...
I'm not sure how to write it or how it will come out, other than these are some real-world takes from actual experiences that have shaped me into the man I am.
If I could write it in a way of advice to my 10-year-old self I will try to do that.
My First Point I Wish I Knew
Take ownership of everything in life, make it yours to achieve and yours to own up to. Achievements and results, shitty outcomes and failures. You are the one that has to own where you are and how you got there.
The next point then is that it's your responsibility to improve. Every day you're alive is a day to get better AT SOMETHING. You have to at your very core improve someway each day. Regardless of where you are you need to progress in life.
Third: literally no one, owes you anything. You can not expect or demand a single thing from anyone, and this ties back to points one or two. If someone let you down, you own up to the fact you picked them
Well, happiness and the white picket fence are a myth. You are not to base your life entirely on the idea of happiness. It's not what makes you happy in life that matters, heroin can make you happy. Do what will make you fulfilled, live and strive towards purpose in your life. If anything regardless of if you reach it or not, you will look back and know you lived your life in the attempt to better the world from where you found it.
The greatest lie we will ever be sold is that happiness is the key. It isn't. It’s the problem. Most think that if they reach happiness they will have achieved the best things in life. Yet happiness is not a destination, it’s a fleeting emotion. I can not for the life of me encourage you as a 10 year old to only seek happiness in life. Seek it all, seek every emotion and experience what life has to offer. Just don’t become fixated on one, or else you sell yourself short of what else there is to feel or experience.
Be clear with what you want and never stray. People will come and go, environments will change but you need to commit yourself to at least one thing in life that you will go till the very end or you know it will progress no further. It is the act of pursuit that builds character, resilience, focus, and passion.
Explore your curiosity. Curiosity turns to interest and interests turn to passion. Its your right and responsibility to explore what intrigues you. Its part of the human existence.
Ready To Go Deeper?
Where else do we go from here but a bit more philosophical?
Never seek safety from the suffering. Somehow in 2022, people seem to think safety and hiding will protect them from the harshness of life. If you do anything in your time, seek to overcome the suffering, find meaning in the suffering you will experience as a way to justify it and push through it. You are more than the shackles or burdens that hold you back. It takes others along time to realise this.
Find the biggest change you can make in the world and do it. Be relentless in your pursuit to find something bigger than yourself whilst for yourself and go for it. The world needs more people to want to be more and do more.
DO NOT LIMIT YOUR SELF BASED ON THE BELEIFS, PERCEPTIONS, EMOTIONS OF OTHERS. For far, far to long I let the world (friends, family, outliers, nobodies) tell me how I should act talk or behave. Yet it wasn’t till I pushed my self and aimed at the highest thing I could, that life opened up to me. Limitations from others will often just be an internalized insecurity they have they wish to project on you in order to keep their ego in check. You owe them nothing and need not listen.
Learn, read, write and express. To my younger self, we eventually learned to love learning, studying, developing. If you started this earlier, who knows where this would have taken us. Classes were never exciting but we should have found a way to make them excite us personally.
Challenge others often. One of the best things you will ever learn to do, is challenge others positions and learn. Debate is the best chance to solidify what you know, or learn why you're wrong. Seek answers by asking the right questions, then use those answers to right wrongs or correct the mistake. This isnt to be rude, but to help and teach. The worst case you learn, the best case others do.
Never settle in anything. The biggest regrets I have are not of sports or things like that, I did all the sports I could when I could. My biggest regrets were settling in relationships or jobs cause I had no belief in who I was or what I could do. Being comfortable usually leads to the most problems.
Confront Your Dragons
Confront the problems in your life. Hiding will never serve you the way people pretend it does. You cant lock yourself up from life, if you do you lose the opportunity to have a life. This is the greatest dichotomoy of those who want protection and safety. To have life you must risk it, to avoid risk you have to give up your life.
I wish you could understand your father sooner. Ask him questions even if you don’t think they matter. They will. Understand so you know why he worked so hard and missed so many things. Ask him what he gave up in life so you could have yours. At some point your time with him will end just as everyone’s does its just that his came to early. There's parts you’ll never understand because you never got to ask. Hindsight is a powerful thing, and now we know what we should have asked. So, take that time to understand him.
Be selfish! For the love of god, put yourself first and grow you for as long as you can!! To many people think self-focused mastery is selfish, not realising the better you are, the better you fix yourself, the more you can help those who need it.
Learn from everyone. Talk to people, challenge people, ask people like they all have something to teach you. Even in the worst advice, evidence or thoughts, there is something worth taking in. It can be as dumb as cowshit, but if it worked for someone theres a reason why.
Take Time To Learn
Take the time to learn the right way. This would have applied earlier, so much earlier to our training and progress.
You will suffer painful experiences. Don’t avoid them, don’t wish them away, embrace what they will teach you. The resilience and direction you develop from these things is worth the agony and pain it caused. It's not to say its self-inflicted, but these things are your future as they are my history. They become part of the story and it made you who you are.
There will come a point you think its worth ending it all in the face of what feels like unfair suffering. Be glad you don’t. With determination, persistence, relentless obsession, it gets better. Not out of luck or ease, but because you work your fucking ass off to make it that way. That’s what makes It so much sweeter. Life hit you and you got up and swung back.
Don't Give Up Who You Are To Be Someone You're Not
Do not give yourself up to be someone you aren’t. This one I can not express more. Theres a Greek philosopher who says, "the first self dies when we stop living in line with the expectations of who we are supposed to be."
Society and our peers tell us how to act, live, behave; but this isnt our true self. The second-self is born when we forgo the first and become who we truly are. Once you have this, do not let this go to be someone you aren’t. You will never feel worse than when you pretend you want to be around people you know serve you no purpose or behave like someone you aren’t.
Social evolution is real. As you learn, as you focus, as you obsess and become determined, social circles and groups start to become anchor points. You become fixed to small thinking and environments that no longer provide you the stimulus you need to keep going. You do not owe people anything if you seek progress and more from life. You MUST let these people go. It is not rude, or selfish to do so. Spending time in life doing things that aren’t towards the purpose you have is a waste of your very existence.
Once you know what you need to do, anything else just becomes a struggle. This one took me a long time to accept, but once you know exactly where you want to be and go, doing anything but that will tear you up inside. It will become a constant struggle to show interest, be involved, be present in things that drag you away from the mission you have discovered. Sadly not everyone will find this, and so will think it's odd or strange to be this way.
Life is determined by you not those around you. Never let someone tell you what fun should be, or how life should be lived, there are 7.6 billion people here all experiencing things differently to you. You do not have to live by the rules or expectations set by anyone else’s definition. If you enjoy working, or training, or gaming or sport. If you don’t want to drink or party these things are ok. No one gets to define the time you will have and how you should have it.
Be Accepting Of Death
Accept death is part of the beauty that is life. As much as every day is a time to learn, improve, chase your ambitions, It's also a chance for life to end. Accepting that your death is the only true certainty in life is the greatest way I know I could teach you to appreciate everything in life and waste no time. There are times I wish I could have had more with dad as you will lose him 15 years from now. I also know I made a lot of time up when we were together. This is not a sad part of life, but a normal part of living. The sooner we accept that the more we are able to live.
Do not fear death, you don’t remember life before you were here and so you wont remember life when you are gone. Fear sitting on your death bed having never really lived a life you remember at all. To be given the chance to be alive, is a 1 in 4 trillion chance, yet you are here and that comes with responsibility. To be born in the most technologically advanced period of all human history, you owe it to those who weren’t, who died, who didn’t get to live to do something with it. 1000 generations go back in order for you to be where you are and that takes some grasping. It also means you must take the responsibility of doing something with this.
Stand Your Ground
Stand your ground and hold yourself up. Never, ever show weakness where standing your ground would have been the solution. When the world knows it can take an inch from you without push back, you will lose a mile. It has happened to us too many times and I would say those times you could have changed if you listened less to mum and stood up. It's not showing your teeth that makes you a bad, weak man, it's not knowing how to show them and so you cower to anything.
Speak the truth as much as you can. Peoples feelings are not as important as facts and the defense of logic. Too many people in this age have become accustomed to their emotions being their answer. Do not let others emotions dictate your behaviour. That means telling the truth and being honest. Lying to get what you want will never work out, even in the end it will cost you the internal peace of knowing you lied to obtain something.
Give Yourself The Chance To Fail
Give yourself the chance to fail. Provided you gave it everything you possibly had. Something we have grown to loathe, is those who always leave the exit door open with a goal. They speak with energy or excitement, but leave just enough room in the conversation to say they didn’t try that hard. To me, there is nothing weaker than failing to commit your entire self to something you love. Do it with passion and obsession or don’t do it. You have to give yourself the chance to fail, because that means you also give yourself the chance to succeed. One can not exist without the other and if you never fully commit then you can never fully succeed. The greats risks require the biggest jumps.
Its not where you end up if you succeed, but who you become along the way that matters. Some of the most successful people can be pretentious pricks, avoid that and stay who you are. Support those who supported you and push those who need it. Do this as you strive towards your goals and who you will become trumps the destination anyway.
If I Could Say One Last Thing To My Younger Self
Be a man, its not just ok, its necessary. Regardless of the war on masculinity that evolves in 2022 and on, be the man you needed, and whom you wish you had. Be a man who builds great things and be the man the world needs regardless of their denial of that need. Be strong, confident, determined and passionate, be loyal and relentless. Correct mistakes and own up to short comings. Be exactly who you are and stray for no one. Do not compromise your self-worth, your identity or your values to be something else. That’s what the world needs more of. Be that and be proud of that.
I could write this for hours, and I probably will again.
I guess the points of which I get at in this reflection of my 30 years is this;
Find YOUR purpose in life. Find a meaning so that all the harshness of life becomes bearable and sustainable. Be 100% with who you are and give yourself the chance to succeed, by accepting you can always fail. The sooner you can set those big goals, those scary ambitions the sooner you can get to working on them. You wont find it in a trade you don’t like, or a circle of friends you share no interests with. You have to explore. So set out on your own paths and figure out who you are.
No one will ever be able to tell you exactly who you are, so why let them decide who you should be. Chase fulfilment so that when the time comes, you can look back and know you did everything you could, not to be happy but to be a change. Death is inevitable for all of us, at any moment at any point of time it can happen. So, make due with the time you have, make it count and make your mark, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you did that.
Do this, and live your life with purpose, consistency and intensity. You cannot lose.
- Ben Mayfield-Smith