This season for me is all about falling forward, moving on from the struggles of yesterday and looking on from former fun times to future fantasies. With that being said, there are rules that I have put in place to ensure that I will indeed, #fallforward. This practice is something I am going to call life overhauling. When overhauling your life and attempting to move forward, it is necessary to do some cleaning of house, old clothes, swimsuits from the summer that already no longer fit, and most importantly, your possy. (Yes that's possy with an "O" but for my female readers, you may want to routinely clean the other thing too). Entrepreneur and author of some great books like The 4 Hour Work Week and Tools of Titans, Tim Ferris says, "You are the average of the 5 people you most associate with." So as young professionals, with our own individual plethora of problems and limited financial means, we want to comfort our friends who get broken up with, we want to go across the country to be in a lame wedding with weird family, and we want to play never-ending mind games with our ex boyfriends or girlfriends who won't grow up, but the fact of the matter is, WE CAN'T and we SHOULDN'T. People who entice us into wasting our time, resources, and money on their needs, at this age are holding us back. If our "friends" or significant others can't bring something positive to our lives, we need to tell them to get the fuck out! Also, by bringing something positive I don't mean in terms of STDs, those can be negative. I mean positive influences, attitudes or experiences, just to be clear.
Speaking of STDs, let's talk about crabs! The best analogy I know for the people in your life that will attempt to stunt your growth is that of a
pot of crabs (I mean the sea creature here, not the crotch rash). If you've never cooked crabs before, be warned, it can be challenging, just check the video to the left. You cook them in a pot alive or they can be poisonous. When you put several angry crabs in a pot, they all click their claws and squirm their legs in anger and fear at what their fate has become. There will inevitably be a crab or two that decide they are going to pull a "Finding Nemo" and make an escape... because all drains lead to the ocean. The problem is that one crab will get close to breaching the side walls into freedom but all the other crabs in the pot will grab him before he can climb out, thus restraining the determined crab to the same fate as the whole pot. Death. There are several types of crabs that I have seen in my life and studied in the lives of others. They usually can be classified in groups and I want to take a look at three, although I am sure that some people reading this can identify a crab in their life that maybe doesn't fit one of my classifications. I would love to hear about it! Let's explore.
The first crab type is the Miserable Ex. When you're young, moving around for jobs a lot, and in love, it inevitably doesn't last too long because more than likely one person gets the big job and moves away to a big city or one person goes to college in the south and the other won't leave their hometown. It happens. What also happens is, because you moved to the college far away or to the big city, you grow up. When you make drastic moves or changes in your life, it levels you up. You cannot help but grow up and get a little bit smarter because you need to in order to adapt and survive in your new environment. The problem is that as you continue to grow, the Miserable Ex sees you succeed and with the deceit of Adam and Eve, they impulsively thwart and discourage your success and growth. You'll come back for Christmas or a football game and get that chance to talk to them that you looked forward to for months. What you'll find is that instead of congratulating you like everyone else, they'll talk about how much you've changed. From their perspective you have done nothing but change but what they don't understand is that you have changed for the better. Don't give the Miserable Ex any power! They want to make you mad. Just ignore their comment and say it has been quite an experience since you moved but that you love that you did it and have no regrets because you probably don't and if you do, you shouldn't. Let them die in their misery.
There are a lot of really great couples I know that have dated through college and big moves around the country and around the world while one of the pair stays more local. There is nothing wrong with this as long as egos do not thwart the goals of either person and that they both mutually respect and promote the other's decision. Just because someone won't move doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a chance! Just watch for the Miserable Ex Complex when they won't move and don't want you to move away either.
Now let's look at the Parental Guilt Trip. Ah yes, parents who love us unconditionally... as long as we tow the party line, go where they want us to go and find jobs in things that they deem worthy. When I was about to leave high school and move on to a college 800 miles away, it astonished me how much I would hear people say how they would love to go to school somewhere else in the country but they didn't think their parents would allow them or how I would hear parents talk about how they hoped that their kid would find a nice school close to home that wasn't too far away. I'm sorry, when did children become pets or toys? Push the birds out of the nest and let them attempt to fly! They might and probably will fail and hopefully there are no calls from jail but either way, we all need to live our own lives and follow our own passions so that we learn. To be fair to parents out there, I think that a lot of the guilt tripping does happen unintentionally or at least unknowingly. Subtle comments, conversations and emotions can be received in a young person's mind as though by leaving to go far away, they are somehow letting their parents down or abandoning them. The thing that I have learned is that for parents and for their little birdies, often the best thing they can do is to explore someplace new. The best thing that I ever did was leave home and learn to get by without the help of my parents. Thankfully for me, this is something that they supported and they didn't relentlessly make phone calls that made me feel guilty for leaving family behind... Although I am sure ignored a few calls anyway. Either way, I have met a lot of very gifted young individuals who are some of the most inspiring artists, writers and political advocates. I've seen them chase their dreams everyday in cities big and small but their parents fail to see this as a pursuit of passion because of their cultural blinders and misunderstanding. I hate hearing stories like this. I've learned that when you undoubtedly know what you want, a lot of people are probably not going to rally around it, including your parents. No one can understand your dreams like you you can because it's your dream not theirs. My advice is to go for it and shed the weight of guilt that your family can unknowingly bestow upon your shoulders.
Do you have The High School Best Friend? This one is probably the most relatable to everyone. You grow up with some people from childhood until you're both standing there with diplomas in your hand. Then you move away and they stay behind. Inevitably you will return one day, a changed, tried, and challenged individual. Many times you find that someone whom you shared so much with growing up has suddenly become one of the hardest people to have a conversation with. They will talk about people and events in a town you left behind where nothing happens and no one changes. They will get tired of hearing about your drunken adventures at school or around Wrigleyville after the Cubs won the World Series or your struggles fighting your way up the corporate ladder and what you're doing about it. Your instinct will be to water down your conversation to make them feel comfortable. Don't do that! Talk to them as you would anyone else. If they aren't intrigued with your stories and life enough to care, then they're really not that great of a person to spend your time with because they're not really doing anything to help you move forward and are only forcing you to keep looking back.
All in all, I have found that the best thing to fight off the crabs is to continually change things up as much as possible. When given the
opportunity to go somewhere with people whom you don't know, go. Be the life of the party, shake hands, kiss babies and attempt to meet new people wherever you find yourself. Aside from just shaking a hand, I try to conversate. Get to know, not just what people do, but why they do it, how they got there, and what their interests are. With this, you will connect to more people and be able to make friends with people who are on the same journey as you. The other thing to remember is that the best of friends often come in cycles. You connect with a really great group who shares your journey at that time but time will inevitably pull you all apart. It is sad but true. No one is going to the exact same place and groups only share a path for a while until their route veers off of your's. The only antidote to avoid loneliness and keep moving forward is to catch the next cycle of friends on the next road who are going in the same direction as you are for the time being. These cycles will probably continue forever as long as you are working on your dreams. By saying this, I am not casting down people who are not going where you are going, I am saying that they have a different journey forward than you do. One day you will probably meet again. Just think how much fun it will be one day to look back on your life and see nothing but wonderful, colorful and diverse faces who helped you along your journey. My ultimate goal is to buy a yacht one day and fill it with all the people who helped me get there so that we can sail around the world and cause a ruckus at every port of call. Whatever your dream is, go after it, find the people who will travel on your journey with you and cast out the ones who are distractions along the way. It's your life. It's not selfish to want to fulfill your life's dreams and it's just stupid to lose sight of your dream by working on someone else's.
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