It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young.
That may be true. To a certain extent, you could say that young people waste their youth. You could also say that people who believe youth is wasted on the young are people who would waste their time regardless of the point in their lives at which they are. They just wish they could have their youth back so that they can feel better about putting off living their lives.
I’m listening to Futures by Jimmy Eat World as I’m writing this. It’s an anthem. It starts off with “I always believed in futures.” That’s what we abandon when we reach a certain point in our lives. It could be early, it could be late.
I’ll be 30 as of June 10th, 2012. Part of me wishes I had my 20s back, but they’re over. It makes me wonder what I would have done differently. Would I have traveled more? Would I have finished college? Would I have stayed in Bowling Green? These are all questions that have passed their expiration date. I can’t fixate on what I could/would/should have done.
What I can think about is what kept me from doing anything I wanted to do in the first place. Answer? Possibly fear. Probably laziness. If you thought I was talking about anyone in particular in those first paragraphs, I was. I was talking about myself. I found myself thinking that youth is wasted on the young, because man, I would love to be back at a point where I didn’t have to make big life decisions, be an adult, and I had as much time and potential as anyone else.
That stopped me cold. It was like I was saying I no longer had any potential. That pissed me off. Why do I not rate as someone with potential? Because I’ve had the same job for 4 years? Because I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree? I am where I am because of choices that I’ve made over the course of my life.
No, I don’t have a degree. Yes, I have a mound of student loan payments anyway. No, I don’t own a house. Yes, my cars make weird noises and shake a little bit when I go too fast.
But I have much more to be thankful for than I do to complain about. Truth be told, I’m very happy with my life.
- I have a beautiful, caring wife that loves me.
- I have a cozy home.
- I have two crazy dogs that I love.
- I’ve made some films I’m proud of.
- I make people laugh.
- I have a well-paying job
- I’m relatively healthy
- I live in America (and regardless of what political affiliations you have or why you think this country is going straight to hell, it’s still a pretty amazing place to live)
- I have people who believe in me, even if I don’t believe in myself
That last one gets me. I know everyone has family that tell them they have great talents in their areas of interest. But I also have friends that tell me I should be making more movies, writing scripts, and doing things that actually make me excited. These are friends I feel like would tell me if it was stupid crap and I didn’t know how to tell a story.
It comes down to me, ultimately.
I have to do things. Like this blog. I started it because Aubrey told me I should use it as a means to get writing again. My first post was about how I want to make myself a writer again. I’ve slacked off a couple of weeks since I’ve started, but that’s mainly been times when I couldn’t think of what to write, or thought nobody would care what I wanted to write about that week. I can’t really limit myself to what I think people want to read, or what people will find interesting. That will only produce pressures for me and watered-down results for you.
Aubrey and I had a big talk this week. We talked about quite a few things over several hours. One of the topics was how I tend to base a lot of my actions on how it will affect others around me. I can’t deny that. To me, that was just being considerate. But it also means that I may have done things for other people more than I’ve done them for me.
I’m willing to bet not a lot of other people make their choices based on what’s good for other people.
The problem comes when people expect you to do what’s best for them because you have trained them to expect that. I’m having trouble figuring out where the line sits that makes me decisive about what’s best for me, but doesn’t make me a self-centered, inconsiderate prick.
Or maybe this is all just another excuse. “Oh, it’s other people’s fault that I’ve never figured things out. I didn’t want to upset anybody.”
There are multiple things at work here. I have a fear of success, I have a fear of failure, and I also have a fear of investing myself in something that I’m not sure will work out in the end. If I put time and effort into something and it falls flat, that’s all time I don’t get back. But if I sit down to watch 17 hours of Supernatural, I get exactly what I expected going in.
Anyone remember Morpheus’ speech from The Matrix Reloaded?
[…] Believe me when I say we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. I stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No, I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me but because of the path that lies behind me. […]
I really need to shed my fear of things. Loss, appearance, judgment, resentment, failure. These are all things that will happen. To quote Van Wilder,
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
As far as what other people are going to think about the decisions I make, that’s something that we all have to deal with to a certain degree. I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely cavalier about what people think about me. But I think back to one of my favorite fables by Aesop.
A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by his side a countryman passed them and said, “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?” So the man put the boy on the donkey, and they went on their way.
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the man ordered his boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his boy up before him on the donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passersby began to jeer and point at them. The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.
The men said, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours — you and your hulking son?”
The man and boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, until at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them until they came to a bridge, when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the donkey fell over the bridge, and his forefeet being tied together, he was drowned.
The moral of the story is that if you try to please everyone, you will please no one.
I think I’ve left my life to decide itself, by way of going with the flow. That’s always been one of my highest-praised qualities, which makes me wonder how many people just keep me around because I make them laugh and don’t give any resistance.
I’ll be 30 in just a few short days. I am where I am in my life because of choices I’ve made, whether I made them actively or passively. I have tried to please everyone, which has not worked out to my advantage. I am here because of the road that lies behind me.
But I always believed in futures. I believe in mine. I have put off living my life for long enough. I am going to have to decide what’s important to me, who’s important to me, and where to go from here.
It will be hard.
I will fail.
I will lose people.
I will learn, even when I fail.
Thomas Edison said , “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
I don’t look at 30 as a resignation. I look at it as an opportunity to reinvent myself.
Try it again.