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You know you’re no longer young when all the friends around you are having babies and getting married. Some have moved away because of great job opportunities while others have decided to settle down somewhere where they can relax and be content with their lives.

But what about those like me? The ones who aren’t married or have kids. The ones who don’t have a great job to brag about during happy hour to our less-than-fortunate associates. The ones who’ve held onto a dream since childhood and are still continuing to pursue it regardless of how many failures.

We are the idealists. The romantics. The heretics. The underdogs. And life sure seems to fucking hate us right now.

Common sense dictates we should “get our shit together.” It’s been years of trying and failing. This vicious loop of aspiration and diminishing returns is a bitch, and most of the time a very lonely endeavor.

We All Have a Journey

Everyone has a journey. Most of which will fall into the “follow your dreams” mantra (I seriously hate saying that, it’s too fluffy). Creating a Fortune 500 company.  Traveling to every country in the world. Summiting all seven highest mountains in each continent (aka The Seven Summits). Making space travel a regular thing. Mastering the Eye of Agamotto.

Even if you’re still trying to figure it out, guess what? That’s your journey.

These journeys require commitment, immense focus, and unrelenting patience. These journeys can also have pivots and redirection but that should be expected. Remember: unrelenting patience.

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Time Limit

I recall reconnecting with a friend after high school who told me I’m too old to make it as an r&b singer. I was 25 at the time. Eventually I stopped writing songs and making music and demoted it to “just a hobby.” Now as I write this Metallica is still touring and New Kids On The Block are still making women faint. Soul/funk/r&b singer Charles Bradley is doing well for himself and–at the time of this writing–he’s 68 years old.

It’s almost becoming commonplace to see people achieving success in their later years.

  • Tony Horton of P90x fame was 46 when Beachbody released it.
  • Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four at 39.
  • Samuel L. Jackson’s biggest role happened at 43 starring in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever.

Being half-way into my 30’s I still have a plethora of untested ideas. Unless I get hit by a bus then it’s game over, man.

Life Leaves You Behind

It’s a little discouraging—or maybe quite discouraging—when everyone else around you seems to be moving on with their lives. Or at least that’s what they want you to believe through their carefully laid out and curated posts on their Facebook feeds.

It’s disappointing when those same friends you used to share dreams with are telling you to “grow up” or “stop being childish.” These same friends who settled and became “realists.” These same friends who will admit to you later that they wish they had started a business or continued with their photography or wish they could’ve made something out of the little doodle sketches they used to love drawing back in the day.

Now when I say settled, I’m not talking about the ones who are happily married or found something else more rewarding that you and I wouldn’t even consider. If what you do makes you happy, that’s the jackpot! That’s it! You’ve won!

The settled I’m mentioning, I guess the “settled-adjacent,” are the ones who still have that itch. That little annoying fucking voice in their head that screams at them when they’re stopped at a red light on their way to a job that doesn’t fulfill them in any way but does pay the bills and supports their family.

That’s regret. (NOT for your family.) And regret can suck it in my book.

And I’m stubborn. And obsessive. Two things that don’t fit in well in a balanced life. I’m also slowly training myself to become a completionist because half-assedness gets no results.

But these are all traits that I believe have allowed me try over and over again. In contrast, failing over and over again. But I embrace failure and I have no problem admitting I suck at a lot of things.

But I do it. And I continue to do it. And I’ll probably never stop doing it (because I’m a stubborn asshole).

Not for the Faint-of-Heart

Sure, everyone around you seems to be “embarking on a new chapter,” and sure you may feel a bit of pressure to do the same things everyone is posting pictures about. This journey isn’t for everyone. Not everyone will be a success. You understand this path you’re treading has no guaranteed ROI. Your life could be cut short without you accomplishing anything. Or it can be long without accomplishing much.

I understand this is a choice. I am also immensely grateful that I have the ability to make this choice. To pursue things that don’t make sense. That seem unattainable. That has no guarantee of victory.

There are always going to be those who think they know how you should run your life. Especially when they don’t believe you know what you’re doing. Just calmly tell them you appreciate their concern for you, but you got this. And then remind yourself you’re not doing what the majority of folks do.

Realize you are an anomaly. Anomalies’ only function is to disrupt.

Keep moving forward.

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Featured image / adaptation of Lonely by Jason Kuffer
Available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.
Copyright © 2008 Jason Kuffer.