I read a story today. It’s a letter written by a man in Reddit. He wrote that letter to take the weight off his chest. It’s painful. It’s heartbreaking. But, it’s also what’s wrong with almost all of us.
What’s in it for me? Why should I read that letter? Why should I care? You may have all these questions. Before I answer them, I want you to read the letter. I will tell you why you should care – in the section following the letter.
Life slips by so quickly.
Often, we aren’t even aware our lives aren’t taking the shape we’d hoped. It’s easy to settle for a job or a relationship, rather than make decisions that create the person you’d like to become.
TIFU my whole life. My regrets as a 46 year old, and advice to others at a crossroad
TIFU. More like more whole life really.
Hi, I my name’s John. I’ve been lurking for a while, but I’ve finally made an account to post this. I need to get my life off my chest. About me. I’m a 46 year old banker and I have been living my whole life the opposite of how I wanted.
All my dreams, my passion, gone. In a steady 9-7 job. 6 days a week. For 26 years. I repeatedly chose the safe path for everything, which eventually changed who I was.
Today I found out my wife has been cheating on me for the last 10 years. My son feels nothing for me. I realised I missed my father’s funeral FOR NOTHING. I didn’t complete my novel, travelling the world, helping the homeless. All these things I thought I knew to be a certainty about myself when i was in my late teens and early twenties. If my younger self had met me today, I would have punched myself in the face. I’ll get to how those dreams were crushed soon.
Let’s start with a description of me when I was 20. It seemed only yesterday when I was sure I was going to change the world. People loved me, and I loved people. I was innovative, creative, spontaneous, risk-taking and great with people. I had two dreams. The first, was writing a utopic/dystopic book.
The second, was travelling the world and helping the poor and homeless. I had been dating my wife for four years by then. Young love. She loved my spontaneity, my energy, my ability to make people laugh and feel loved.
I knew my book was going to change the world. I would show the perspective of the ‘bad’ and the ‘twisted’, showing my viewers that everybody thinks differently, that people never think what the do is wrong. I was 70 pages through when i was 20. I am still 70 pages in, at 46.
By 20, I had backpacking around New Zealand and the Phillipines. I planned to do all of Asia, then Europe, then America (I live in Australia by the way). To date, I have only been to New Zealand and the Phillipines.
Now, we get to where it all went wrong. My biggest regrets. I was 20. I was the only child. I needed to be stable. I needed to take that graduate job, which would dictate my whole life.
To devote my entire life in a 9-7 job. What was I thinking? How could I live, when the job was my life? After coming home, I would eat dinner, prepare my work for the following day, and sleep at 10pm, to wake up at 6am the following day. God, I can’t remember the last time I’ve made love to my wife.
Yesterday, my wife admitted to cheating on me for the last 10 years. 10 years. That seems like a long time, but i can’t comprehend it. It doesn’t even hurt. She says it’s because I’ve changed. I’m not the person I was. What have I been doing in the last 10 years? Outside of work, I really can’t say anything. Not being a proper husband. Not being ME.
Who am I? What happened to me? I didn’t even ask for a divorce, or yell at her, or cry. I felt NOTHING. Now I can feel a tear as I write this. But not because my wife has been cheating on me, but because I am now realising I have been dying inside.
What happened to that fun-loving, risk-taking, energetic person that was me, hungering to change the world? I remember being asked on a date by the most popular girl in the school, but declining her for my now-wife. God, I was really popular with the girls in high school. In university/college too. But i stayed loyal. I didn’t explore. I studied everyday.
Remember all that backpacking and book-writing I told you about? That was all in the first few years of college. I worked part-time and splurged all that I had earned. Now, I save every penny. I don’t remember a time I spend anything on anything fun. On anything for myself. What do I even want now?
My father passed ten years ago. I remember getting calls from mom, telling me he was getting sicker and sicker. I was getting busier and busier, on the verge of a big promotion. I kept putting my visit off, hoping in my mind he would hold on. He died, and I got my promotion. I haven’t seen him in 15 years.
When he died, I told myself it didn’t matter what I didn’t see him. Being an atheist, I rationalized that being dead, it wouldn’t matter anyway. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Rationalizing everything, making excuses to put things off. Excuses. Procrastination. It all leads to one thing, nothing. I rationalized that financial security was the most important thing.
I now know, that it definitely is not. I regret doing nothing with my energy, when I had it. My passions. My youth. I regret letting my job take over my life. I regret being an awful husband, a money-making machine.
I regret not finishing my novel, not travelling the world. Not being emotionally there for my son. Being a damn emotionless wallet.
If you’re reading this, and you have a whole life ahead of you, please. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t leave your dreams for later. Relish in your energy, your passions. Don’t stay on the internet with all your spare time (unless your passion needs it).
Please, do something with your life while your young. DO NOT settle down at 20. DO NOT forget your friends, your family. Yourself. Do NOT waste your life. Your ambitions. Like I did mine. Do not be like me.
Sorry for the long post, just had to get it out there.
TL:DR I realised I let procrastination and money stop me from pursuing my passions when I was younger, and now I am dead inside, old and tired.
Now, I am sure this letter would have done something. Probably, it pulled on your heartstrings, or made you feel warned or gave you an ‘AHA’ moment.
A lot of us want happiness, success, money, etc. Some of us want to make a difference in this world. But the mindset that most of us have is this:
As we age, we give into the widespread social belief that security and safety should precede love, passion, and freedom. We allow ourselves to be conditioned by the widespread bull-social-shite that everyone follows. We are living in an age where if one lone man speaks the truth and a thousand people speak against it, guess what’s going to be perceived as the truth? Yup. That’s right. The lie that those thousand people support. So, it’s no wonder that we tend to accept as right/wrong/good/bad/safe/unsafe/risk/no-risk whatever is supported by the majority as such. We don’t give an ounce of a thought. We want to feel like we belong to the community around us. Sometimes it involves us silencing our inner voice that speaks the truth and it also includes following the herd throughout our life.
And then, one day, most of us end up feeling like this:
Over the period of our life which we allow to be dictated by socially accepted norms of what is right, what is wrong, what should one do, what should one not do, etc., we gather this mass of social bullshite inside us, that eventually ends up weighing us down. One day, we look back, and we realize that we have stopped feeling anything at all and that we are spending so much time in social sedation and unexplainable numbness.
Now, you should ask this question – What should I do to avert this kind of a life in which I end up becoming someone like this:-
Put a big question mark on that question. The answer is here.
1. Stop allowing others to dictate how your life should be:
If you are like the majority, you want to be accepted by the crowd. You don’t want to stand out and you are probably afraid to do so. If you are living such a li(f)e, it is very much possible that you have let others live your life until now.
Go to school > Go to college > Get a boyfriend/girlfriend > Get a job > Get married > Give birth to a child > Bring them up > Send them to school > Send them to college > Help them get a job > See them get married > Have fun with the grandchildren > WAIT FOR DEATH.
The flow mentioned above is what almost every society you might live in will advise you to do. Do anything out of the ordinary, anything out of that flow, immediately a lot of eyebrows will start raising. You do anything outside of the herd agenda, you will immediately start attracting attention, everybody will start telling you that you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that, you should do it like this, you should do it like that, etc.
FEAR – that’s the reason people stop whatever they are trying to do outside of the status quo and go back to their old ways of life – the one accepted by the society and their community.
Stop doing that. Get over that fear. When you step out of that fear and start living the way you want to live, doing the things that you want to do, even if it is against the socially accepted norm of what is NORMAL – you will yourself realize how it feels to have a life outside of the flock of sheep that you were following.
2. Start taking CALCULATED risks:
Once again, coming to the advice part, people who advise you to do otherwise from what the majority is doing, will most often say so, bluntly. They will ask you to risk it all. But it is you who is gonna take the risk and it’s you who will bear the consequences of the risks you take, not them.
There are two types of risks – blind-crazy-stupid risks & calculated risks.
A person having a million dollars, investing it all in his new business is a blind-crazy-stupid risk. This person might have heard the advice of new age gurus who advise you to start working for yourself by starting some business and by making the money work for you.
The same person, invests a quarter million dollars in building his investment profile, another half a million in real estate – buys at a lower price and sells at a higher price. With the profit, he buys another property, avoids capital gain taxes and saves the rest quarter of the million dollars by putting it into a fixed deposit/Bonds/CDs, etc. He takes the profit that he gains from all of his investments and invests it in a business. He starts small and grows the business into something big. Now, this is also a form of risk taking. For all he knows, he could follow the advice of the people around him and put that million dollars into his fixed deposit and live off the interest. But, this risk is calculated and very well planned. He might lose it all, so he keeps a quarter million for the safety and security of his future.
So, stop listening to the new age gurus blindly and stop taking blind-crazy-stupid risks. Start being calculative of whatever you do, especially when you are taking risks.
A risk is just something where there are outcomes that you can’t always anticipate. The outcome is uncertain. There is no single correct outcome in the risks you take. So, being calculative in taking risks means that you have a plan for every possible outcome that you can think of, that can arise out of taking those risks.
Bottom line – Have a plan. Take risks. Prepare for the worst.
3. Stop consuming popular media:
One look at any newspaper, online magazines, news blogs, TV Channels, news channels, flash news, etc., and you will know that the media and the news that they report are almost always negative. The tactic used by the media all over the world, reporting mostly the bad, negative, fear-inducing news is to increase their TRP rating because people respond to fear and threat more than they respond to love and happiness. Also, hearing such news, watching the negative, crap filled tv-series, serials, movies, and reading such articles are all going to do you only more harm.
You are by part the media you consume. Just for a change, one full day, keep listening to sad songs, breakup songs, heartbreak songs and read fear-inducing, heartbreaking news from all over the web and observe how you feel at the end of the day. Yup, right. You will feel like poop.
Anything popular – stay away from it. Social media – use in moderation. Unsubscribe from anything that brings you negative news, message and the associated feelings. Anything with a negative vibe – put a “not allowed” sign in front of your spirit’s home.
Do you really think that the world is filled with so much negativity, with mostly heartbreaking and awful incidents happening all over? If your think so, it only means that that is what the media has led you to believe.
The truth is that there are good/better/great things, positive things, uplifting things, awe-inspiring incidents, acts of kindness, compassion, courage, love and mercy happening all over the world more than there are bad/negative/awful things happening. If not more, at least equal number of awesome, positive and uplifting things are happening around the world. Only because the popular media all over the world don’t report such positive things anymore, people who are not aware of what’s going on fall into the trap of feeling that the world has become a sad, bad, negativity filled place that can’t be saved.
Don’t allow yourself to be trapped into thinking that way. Stop today.
Pause and evaluate before it is too late.
4. Start reading great books:
What you know is more important than who you know because, only what you know will determine who you will know.
If you are one among those who think that education stops after college or if you are someone who hasn’t read a book since you finished college, you should change that. If you are currently in school or college, this is a great time to follow this suggestion and make it a habit.
Believe me or not, a fellow man is not a man’s best friend. A fellow human is a man’s ‘good’ friend. According to me, a man’s better friend is a dog and a man’s BEST FRIEND? That’s right – Books.
Again, there are a lot of negative, stupid books. They are not your best friends.
There are books that are awesome, inspiring, motivating, books that are considered great, having greatness written all over them, those are the books that can be considered one’s best friend. As you read those books, you learn from many other cultures, many other great human beings who have lived before you. You learn from their mistakes; you learn not to repeat those mistakes; you learn from their wisdom; you learn to act and apply that wisdom in your life. You become a better person with each great book you consume.
When I ask people if they read, they say they haven’t got time. That’s a bullshit reason. If something is important to you, you will make time. Otherwise, you will make an excuse. Those people are full of excuses and where has it taken them? That’s right. Nowhere. Stop giving reasons as to why you don’t have time to read and start making time. If you start thinking of ways to make time, I am sure you can come up with at least ten ways to squeeze some one or two hours per day for reading books.
There is another special category of people who say they don’t like reading books or that they aren’t interested. I have only one reply for them. ‘‘I mourn for your loss in silence’.
That said, reading books is not the only way to develop knowledge and wisdom, but it is surely the best way I have known. You can’t go back in time and speak to the great people that have lived before you, train under them and experience a glimpse of their greatness. That’s why there are books.
5. Start applying the knowledge and the wisdom that you gain:
A person with too much knowledge/wisdom and too little application of it is similar to a person who doesn’t have any knowledge at all. Both offer nothing to this world.
Even if you read so much, it’s not going to be of any use to you or to the world around you unless you start applying it in your life and help the seekers learn the same from you.
So, start reading great books. Read every single day. Learn something new every day – something about yourself, something about the world. Be introspective. Be curious. Apply whatever you learn. Teach others who come to you seeking your wisdom.
6. Stop living for LIKES & Start living for RESPECT:
The most important reason why most of us don’t live our life and end up living someone else’s idea of how our life should be, is this mentality – the need to be liked, the need to be accepted, the need to belong as a part of the community around. This neediness will cost you so much, mind you.
If you have a need to be liked, accepted, to feel like you belong, you may end up getting nowhere in life. You will be an average joe who ends up working a regular job, living a normal life, being a normal person – just another face in the crowd.
Instead, start living for respect. When you start living for respect, you will start defying even the majority and the socially accepted norms if you don’t feel right about it. You will start respecting yourself very highly and that highest form of respect to the self will make you listen to your inner compass. When you listen to what you feel is right inside, when you start following what your inner voice asks you to do, regardless of what others will think/say, that’s when you will set yourself up for a life where you end up earning respect from everyone around you. People may be jealous of you, they may criticize you, and they may judge you. But they will respect you.
You don’t DESERVE respect. You gotta EARN it.
7. Stop settling for anything less than the best:
If you stop settling for anything less than the absolute best that you can have, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in life. Most often, we settle for what we think we deserve. You have to either start raising the bar of what you think you deserve or you gotta work harder and smarter, become a better person to end up feeling that you deserve more. But you have to absolutely stop settling for anything less than the best. Keep the highest bar possible.
People will ask you to aim for the sky so that you can fall on the treetop at least. I deny that. The sky is not your limit, coz there are human footprints on the moon. I am gonna ask you to aim for the stars, galaxy, next galaxy, or the farthest galaxy so that you can land among the stars. Sounds so immodest? If you want to be great, if you want to accomplish greatness in life – a modest thinking about your own self is NEVER, let me repeat, NEVER GOING TO GET YOU ANYWHERE. You gotta start thinking of yourself as the best, greatest and the most awesome human being ever lived. But, don’t stop with that. Work hard enough to back that up in your reality.
8. Start giving back:
The more you accomplish in life, the more you will have. The more you have, the more you can give. If you keep it all to yourself, there is no point in living such a life. If you look at the life of all the millionaires/billionaires in this world, you will see that all of them ends up giving back to the community around them, one way or another. Charity, trust fund, helping underprivileged population in third world countries, etc., are some of the ways that they give back to their world. You can give back and you can find a way to give back. Remember, the more you give, the more you get back. Karma is always watching. Keep your karmic path of life positive and clean.
Some people mistake this advice. What they end up doing is that they start hosting parties for fellow millionaires and billionaires, they spend all that they earn on unnecessary luxuries, to please people they don’t like, to piss of people they don’t want, doing things they don’t really identify with. Now, if you want to have such a lifestyle, that’s completely alright – not a mistake. But, that’s not giving back. That’s just circulating your wealth, knowledge and whatever you have amongst people who already have what you are offering.
Stop helping people who don’t desperately need what you have to give. There are people out there in the third world countries and underdeveloped countries who are desperately in need of food, shelter, clothing, and much more. Give back to them. Help them out. Stop helping voluntarily those people who don’t value what you have to give, who don’t really desperately need what you have to give, who don’t really ask for what you have to give. Start helping people who CAN’T even ask for what they want. Start helping the homeless people in your own country. Start helping those who spend days together in hunger, cold, pain and suffering. Those are the ones who need your help the most.
The most humane way to give back and the best way to show your gratitude is by giving to those who are really in need but don’t even have the strength to ask for it.
Do these things and start living a clean life and you will be setting yourself up for greatness. You will leave a huge damn legacy behind and you will live on even after you leave your body.
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