Pride is a tool – use it wisely.

Fuck the haters, right?

That’s not a bad attitude to have, necessarily.  There are plenty of people in life — family, friends, and strangers — who will tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something.  Don’t fall prey to their negativity.  For reasons why, please refer back to my post, ‘CHASE YOUR FUCKING DREAMS’.

Pride is a complicated thing.  As a dreamer, pride can be what keeps you afloat in tough times, but, left unchecked, can also be what sinks you.

Here’s an extended personal example. Continue reading

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Demand more out of life – you’re entitled to it.

Whether driven by a personal fear of failure, family pressure, or something else, most people make a crucial, endlessly frustrating mistake: they don’t demand enough out of life.

Let me try and put your existence into perspective here.

You were born into this world against staggeringly low odds. The typical human male ejaculate contains 150 million sperm cells, but you were the one that made it. You won the fucking lottery. Drill this into your head. You are a member of the privileged elite in a universe of infinite possibilities. It’s about damn time to act the part.

As children and teenagers and young adults, we imagine that we will eventually be important political figures, athletes, musicians, movie stars, astronauts, and adventurers – when we dream, it is unapologetically big – but somewhere along the developmental process, we begin to manage our expectations. Suddenly, the things we once wanted more than anything are too risky to pursue, and we are left in cubicles to plunk away at spreadsheets and contemplate the life that could have been. Continue reading

The Stars Don’t Shine in the City (Short Story)

Wrote this three years ago when I was in college.  I had just read about the fatal beating of an A-student in an inner city school in Chicago, and was deeply saddened by the event. It inspired me to write this. Hope you enjoy.

Jamal was coming home late.

His English teacher, Mr. Johnson, had delayed him after class to discuss his future.  Specifically, the possibility of a college education.  Even as Jamal approached the squalor of the projects, he allowed a small grin to creep up from the side of his mouth.  It was Mr. Johnson who had convinced Jamal to expect more from himself, who told him that he could be somebody, and so, in the midst of struggle, he began to rely heavily on his teacher for support.  He might even admit that he liked Mr. Johnson, and that was a rare thing.

Rarity defined Jamal – shambling under the weight of a stuffed backpack – his bookishness, his curiosity, all presented an unfamiliar image around these parts.  In a place where dreams were buried prematurely, his had survived for an unusually long time, enough to earn him the jealous scorn of peers who had relegated themselves to a life of small victories and even smaller expectations.

“Ay yo, check it – here comes that Steve Urkle lookin’ mothafucka.”

Jamal immediately recognized the slouching figures crowded ahead on the street corner.  Long ago, when they were kids, they used to play together.  Now they were entry-level thugs slinging drugs, thinking they were kings that had finally been given the crowns they rightfully deserved.  As Jamal walked past, he felt the violent burn of their judgments, a cigarette butt on the skin of his being, forcing him into a forward march, step-by-shameful-step.  He took care to remain submissive.  They would appreciate that.  Build up their ego a bit, he figured, and then they might ignore him.  In a way, Jamal understood their swagger.  To prosper on these streets demanded a different set of skills, and he didn’t blame them for what they did.  What use was an education when problems here were better solved at the smoking end of a pistol barrel or opiate pipe?  Intellectual sympathies notwithstanding, he pressed on past his would-be aggressors.

“Damn son, Mr. Johnson’s dick must taste like a mothafuckin’ haagen-daaz, huh?  Punk ass over there with him talkin’ bout all kinds of freaky shit, I bet.”  They began to orgasmically moan Mr. Johnson’s name: Damon.

Jamal kept his eyes glued to the pavement. Continue reading

You MUST believe that everything is going to be okay.

I had to get this off my chest today. I keep hearing people complain that they are failures, and that they won’t ever achieve their goals, speaking as if the universe itself conspires against them.

Look,
You have to believe in your inevitable success.

That’s not to say that you can simply laze around and eventually become an accomplished writer, entrepreneur, lawyer, etc., but assuming you actually go about doing everything you need to do, then there is nothing holding you back from success in the field of your choosing.

There are two reasons why you might disagree.

1) You think that you lack talent; that there is something innately lesser about the core of your being such that even hard work, persistence, and good practice, consistently summoned over the course of years, will not lead to success.

2) You think that life is a game of chance, and that nobody can predict how the dice will roll.

Now here’s two reasons why that’s bullshit. Continue reading

Depression and the Dreamer: My Story

Ever since my voice first cracked, depression became a major problem. At first, it was the acne, then my seemingly permanent braces, and finally, a vague, deepening feeling of insecurity. I was refugee skinny, my face was weak, and I would wake up every morning, stare at my mirror image, and think of all the structural changes that I wished my genetics had determined instead. A bit of bone here, a little less hair there, a smidgen more muscle everywhere. I was ugly. That was my view of myself, and it influenced everything about me.

But I made it through high school relatively unscathed, mostly because I pushed myself to be active in athletics, earned high marks in my classes, and developed a sense of humor that earned me friends enough that I was sure I was a person of value, even if I was physically unattractive. Importantly, I forced myself to discover and cultivate aspects of my personality that gave me a feeling of value as a human being.

Unfortunately, my depression was not left behind in high school. The unique pressures of college introduced new and even greater problems. In college, though my looks transformed – many even thought I was attractive (oh happy day!) – I found myself struggling with my social self-worth. I met great people and was part of a fun group, but I was no longer the center of attention, a role that I had grown used to in high school as the ‘clown’. My social anxiety and insecurity, however, was ultimately minor in comparison to new issues concerning my academics and career path, and what followed was the most severe, long-lasting depression of my life.

But let’s backtrack to the beginning of college. Continue reading

Travel and Relocation, Savior to the Dreamer

Is your current work or dream location-independent? Is the only thing tethering you an Internet connection? If not, can you make it so? Then this is for you.

We live in an age of unprecedented movement and opportunity. Stop taking it for granted.

In medieval Europe, lives were so fundamentally tied down to a single location that it was not uncommon for people to take on the name of their village or town as their own last name.

The War of 1812 was fought for months after the Americans and British had officially ended it. Why? The ships sent to relay the Crown’s orders to its soldiers took months to crawl across the Atlantic. Whoops.

And here we are, exactly 200 years later, able to cross the Atlantic in 5 hours, treated all the while to an endless stream of video entertainment. Wherever you are in the world, you can be somewhere entirely different within the scope of a single workday. The world is smaller than ever before, small enough to fit well within the bounds of big dreams.

TRAVEL IS FOR MORE THAN FUN.

Okay, so you know that travel is easier, cheaper, and safer than ever before. Cool, but you don’t need me to convince you to go on a vacation.

Stop thinking of travel as an escape.

Yes, travel can be an effective, if temporary escape from the rigorously scheduled life. Yes, travel should be fun and full of vibrant interaction with the local culture and people and history. But it can be so much more. Travel can help you achieve your dream. Long-term travel let’s you choose a set of circumstances where you can more effectively dedicate yourself while avoiding unnecessary stresses and constraints.

Think of travel as a way to maximize your freedom and earnings while minimizing risk.

If you’ve decided to grow some courage and chase your damn dream already, then follow these two simple steps to maximize your chances for success. Continue reading

CHASE YOUR FUCKING DREAMS.

If you knew that you would die in 10 years, would you work the same job? Would you study the same subjects in college or graduate school? Would you live in the same city? Would you try to meet different people? Would you travel more?

What about 15 years? 20 years? 25 years?

If you would change the way you live or study or work, then consider this:

Assumption #1
The tail end of one’s life is largely a byproduct of the rest.

Assumption #2
You are somewhere between 20 and 40 years of age.

Conclusion
You have roughly 25 years (give or take 10) to make good on your dreams.

Tick tock, motherfucker. Continue reading