Here’s a harsh life truth that you’ll never hear in your formative years — there is a very high probability you will not discover what you truly want to do when you’re young. The life you want — the one that will bring you equanimity, joy and splendor — will reveal itself to you gradually throughout the course of your life.
This test of time will occasionally be glorious, and it will also challenge you to your core. Your quest to find yourself will lead you into hobbies, schools, jobs and relationships you couldn’t have imagined when you were young.
If it seems that things are taking “too long,” know it won’t be out of lack of desire or joy for life. It will take you time to learn what job, career, hobby or activity you will choose to fill your schedule. That thing that combines your passion with determination and a track record that says — I’m good at this. I know it. And so does everyone else.
That’s fine. In this age of “winning,” life is surely not won in just one month or one year. The journey of success is as old as time. Those who continue to grow in intellect, who search for knowledge, who choose to be lifelong learners, who never, ever, ever give up on finding happiness and success will win. And victory, or success, or fulfillment, however you want to name it, is defined and determined by you.
It always will be.
The good, the bad and what’s next
“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” — Julie Andrews
No matter how much our digital, vastly interconnected world continues to push the limits of social judgment, pressure and identification, it simply won’t matter if you resist these temptations, and allow your mind to control your destiny. From there, once you’ve forged your plan, determined what it is you want and endlessly worked to become great at that thing — continue to keep doing it for all your days in this world.
That is a blessing. It’s a gift. You’ll only know it once you’re living it.
Don’t get caught up in trying to have things all figured out at once. The beauty of your life’s journey is that you’ll learn through the process of elimination what you truly love, and what isn’t worth your time. Through opportunities, simply by showing up and expressing a hearty interest, you’ll learn what inspires, motivates and lights the fire inside of you.
You’ll also learn what leads you to boredom, what frustrates you and what you know you struggle with learning and grasping. You’ll learn what you’re destined NOT to do. This is absolutely as important, if not more important, than what you love most. The sooner you discover this, the less time you’ll spend in pain, anxiety and hurt. You’ll avoid wasted time. And spend your time on the good stuff.
The thing is the thing
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. — Thomas Carlyle
Let me preface the rest of this piece with this very important statement:
Perseverance is sometimes mistaken. To never give up when you’re doing the wrong thing is foolish. Only a crazy person would continue doing the same wrong thing over and over again expecting a positive and different result. That, as the cliche goes, is the definition of insanity.
So it’s reasonable to say that perseverance is all about finding your right thing. Doing you and continuing through both the good times and bad. Adversity, setbacks and doubt will be no match when you believe in yourself and you understand that the “long game” is the only one worth playing. The instant gratification quick-win scheme you’re being sold is for the foolish and naive.
One of the beautiful things about perseverance is the more you buy-in to this all-powerful value, the more your thought about the beauty of life evolves. Life is magnanimous. You start to believe this and have this revealed to you once you become more optimistic about continuing to forge forward through the good times and the bad.
Speaking of evolution, I thought a fantastic example about one of the most famous figures in history was well suited for this piece. Most people know of Charles Darwin as the man who helped to establish the theory of evolution, which spoke about natural selection and where the species of life came from. Few realize just how long it took the man to get to the point of putting his work out for public consumption.
On the Origin of Species was published in 1859 by Charles Darwin when he was 50 years old. 50! Don’t be too harsh on yourself when you’re a little less than famous at the age of 28! Darwin traveled the world as a young man during his early-mid 20s, gathering much of the information he needed to form the basis of his theory.
Still, he had his own doubts. He had doubts on what others would think of his “radical” new scientific research. The man was far ahead of his time and skeptics were everywhere. But he believed passionately in what he was doing and he kept moving forward.
Darwin’s five-year voyage around the world on HMS Beagle, which ended in 1836, provided him with invaluable research that contributed to the development of his theory of evolution and natural selection. Concerned, however, about the public and ecclesiastical acceptance of his deeply radical idea, he did not present his theory on evolution until 1858… The next year, Darwin published his seminal work, “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Source: History Channel
Over 20 years after he made his way around the world, Darwin finally entered the spotlight. He loved nature. But he didn’t know where it would lead him. The man spent the bulk of his years following his voyage around the world writing on geology! It took him a while to find his thing.
Darwin continued to advance his hypothesis and seek worldly acceptance throughout the latter stages of his life. As the years passed, his research on evolution began to be accepted as fact by society. Charles Darwin meticulously researched something he was passionate and fascinated by, and persevered at a later age to advance a revolutionary breakthrough in biology.
Know who you are so you can rise
You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. — Maya Angelou
In my own life, I’ve learned to grow and persevere against both personal and professional adversity. I’ve had my heart broken. I pressed forward and found the woman of my dreams. I’ve been rejected from publications where I’d like my writing. I’ve kept writing and found ones I love to write for. I’ve been fired from jobs. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and dared to find the next opportunity.
Does this sound like you?
I’ve used these moments as life-changing turning points. It’s driven me to become a bestselling author and family man. I forge forward every day, sometime in big steps, sometimes in small steps, to build a life I can be proud of, firmly on the foundation of what matters most to me.
Fame? Fortune? 450,000 Instagram followers or a millionaire founder of a super-successful tech startup? These lofty aspirations and titles are yours if you declare that you want to do them and continue working toward them each day with dedication, intelligent work and perseverance. Just know you should take your time. Know that even if this is what you want, it’s not going to happen right away. It may not reveal itself at age 19.
And that’s just fine. Life is more fun that way. There’s simply nothing as invigorating as continuing to get to know yourself, your growth as a woman or man, and the lifelong process of self-discovery that will lead you to love, happiness and stretching the limits of what you ever could have imagined was possible. Keep going and find yourself on this remarkable journey called life.
Find your way
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This article first appeared on Medium.