It's 2018... and there seems to be a good deal of sex appeal, branding, and immediacy to everything we fill our time with. From Instagram trends of booty pics, the new "look, I eat veggies too" diet, and the great outdoors adventures (which apparently can only happen if you take the pictures to prove it), to the way we are all so busy with the next greatest book, movie, app, or just general philosophy / binging information from Netflix or whatever streaming platform.
I get it. I'm in it, too. The whirlwind of noise and static. The tireless source of energy and anxiety. I feel like a walking Pinterest board of hopes and fears. Maybe in the 80's, people were saying the same thing...How group classes must have been just a faux way of making people feel like they are in better shape after the Coke and burger (I guess that was big then, yeah?) But what if the cycles were are ripping through are torturing young minds that have a story yet to write? What if all this noise keeps us staring at the page in a constant writer's block until one day we go to wake up and write and we just... don't. wake. up.
I've been binging information from Audible; specifically memoirs and biographies. I've been listening to the stories of innovators, comedians, and potential presidents, trying to assemble an idea of where these people were when they set out to change the world. So far, my efforts have been fruitless. Fruitless in the sense that the answer was something you could pinpoint, circle, and remarket. There's no "secret sauce to success" despite what all your connections on LinkedIn say.
At 24, Nike creator Phil Knight was a virgin, living in his parent's home in Oregon. Just out of grad school - He didn't have a grand plan for a shoe company - or even have the name. It was the Blue Ribbon Company, and he sold shoes from his basement. Comedian Trevor Noah grew up in Africa, where his mother prioritized his education, faith, and mannerisms, but couldn't shelter him from the abuse and clamor of a mad world - when she was shot in the head (she survived). Of course, you know about Steve Jobs, the man who was fired from his own company. Before the man put 1,000 songs into your pocket, he was in and out of school - slipping into typography classes at Reed College. At 23, podcast and TV host, Chris Gethard, was battling suicidal ideations. If he hadn't gotten help, he wouldn't have created a television show that unites the funny and awkward, or a podcast that connects a random phone call to thousands of listeners, or a stand-up special on HBO that advocates the importance of mental health. Have you ever seen a movie with Kevin Hart in it? He almost didn't make it out of high school, and in his twenties, he was struggling with alcoholism and a future he was unsure of. The list goes on and on of people who, at a young age, didn't have the success they strived for or even knew what that success would be. But in all of these stories, there is one thing that they all have in common: once they found the thing they were passionate about, they cut out the noise.
Life is all about balance. Do you want a great diet? Eat the things you enjoy, in moderation. Do you want to stop feeling so busy? Put the phone down, and take a day to yourself. Go to the places you want to see, read the books, watch the shows, and enjoy the time you get to spend without expectation or anticipation (of likes, retweets, favorites). At twenty-something, you don't have to be married, or in a relationship with "the one." In fact, how could you be? This world is a big, big place. There are many souls to meet. Maybe you met the right person, but it takes years to know someone's many sides. How will they handle grief, anger, joy? In your lowest moments, can they hold you up? In their lowest moments, can you do the same? It's okay to wear whatever you want. You don't have to look like the people on your Instagram feed. It's okay to not really like kale or to really love McDonald's (just in moderation). It's okay to need some time before you go back to school. It's okay to go back to school when you are 27, 37, 47...77. Just go back to school. Whatever it is that you do, do it with an honest heart and the best intentions. It's cool to try. It's cool to care. It's cool to chase the things you want. It's cool to love earnestly.
You don't need the answers to life's questions.
But we should all be listening, for when those answers come.