Life is a never-ending journey. There are many clichés that attempt to describe how people go about their lives. “Why put off till tomorrow what you could do today, the early bird gets the worm, success starts from the bottom up,” and the list goes on for “it’s all in a day’s work, alls well that ends well,” and we will get there “all in good time.” But that’s just it. It has come to my attention that a great adventure, a great life, does not exist merely because of one or two moments in time. But those one or two cumulative moments can make the journey or experience more complete.
There are many things in life that I can remember, even if I wish I didn’t. Each of those things however, created a piece of me in some way shape or form. Each part of your life is a small journey in itself. Childhood, adolescence, the random phase between being an adolescent and an adult, and adulthood each have their own stories to tell. In each phase of my life I can look back and say that I changed as a person for better and worse. But that’s just it; there is no right or wrong way to grow up – necessarily. Each person is given a chance to make a life for themselves and by themselves. You are the author of your own life. You have to take what you’re given and make the most of it.
Life certainly isn’t fair and some people have to endure sufferings and hardships from an early age, but to them that’s reality and they have take what they’re given and run with it. Yes, I know that may sound harsh and I’m not naïve to the fact that some people are far better off than others, while some endure hardships that no one should have to face, but reality is just that. It’s real. You have to face it. You have to deal with it. Shit happens and life gets in the way. It is up to you how you react and deal with the things life hands to you. That again may sound harsh but I’m a firm believer in creating your own journey. Yes, other people can shape your world from a young age and at any age but it is up to you in terms of how you’re affected. But I believe you still have the power to change it if you believe you can. Which leads me to the point of this section: experience.
Experiences can shape everything about you. Experiences can open your mind to new ideas and teachings. They can close your mind just as easily. They can have influence on your future decisions. They can make you a person you never thought you’d become. They can teach you to accept or deal with situations you never deemed possible. Experience is a powerful thing.
At each point in my life I can honestly say I have been a different person because of experiences. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve gotten to the point I am currently at and maybe I never will, but it’s certainly worth a try. I didn’t have a very troubled childhood. I actually caused more harm to myself than I think anyone else did. And in some ways that still hasn’t changed, I believe I am my own worst enemy. Adolescence however wasn’t a piece of cake. People can drive you to many ends. The absence of people can also take its toll. However, I made it through without too many emotional and physical battle wounds and life goes on.
Now for the part between adolescence and adulthood, this is where life became interesting. I thought I had myself figured out for the most part. Turns out I was pretty spot on, but also decently wrong. Because of events in life, I was and am a realist, but also became a pretty cynical person. Cynicism has its ups and downs, but after a while -it- like anything else takes a toll. After so long, depending on the degree of cynicism and the current situation of your life, being a cynic gets rather old. But as a cynic and realist – trying to find the truth or believe in the truth of the matter can pose quite a few problems. You can’t exactly change yourself overnight. It takes a good number of changes, along with new and different experiences to give yourself something to look forward to. Once you find something or someone that makes you happy, even if it is temporary happiness, change is simple. Finding the experiences to help make those changes however aren’t exactly that easy to come by. What I mean by that is people don’t often change willingly. Change is usually brought on by force, nature, or an event that made you make a decision you probably should have addressed way before that point.
I’ve grown a lot in the last few years from the cynical person I used to be. I’ve had experiences along the way and events shape my current life into being still very much realistic but a lot more of a dreamer. I’ve been trying for years now to figure out what it is that I want and the experiences in my life have taught me the opposite. They taught me what I don’t want. I always had a jaded view on the world and I still continue to but at this point the cynic exists at a different angle. There’s a twist. No longer are the days that I sit and dwell on the world’s ability to pretty much blow itself up at any moment or think that we’re going to singlehandedly cause this place to self-destruct. I still think we can but my focus has shifted. Now I look at the people around me and the adults in my life and try to figure out why they live the way they do. My parents for example have worked all their lives and have spent years at jobs they can’t stand because they think that’s what life is. Well I’ve experienced more than that. I’ve lived more than that. I’ve had jobs I hated but by no means was I going to sit back and take it like they’ve seem to do. My experience has shaped me into someone that believes that life is what you make it and living to work is sure as hell not the answer.
My life has evolved and changed over the years just as anyone else’s has. I have changed and evolved due to what life has brought my way. I’ve learned new things about myself and have been reminded of things I’ve forgotten. I’ve failed and learned that I’m bad at it, but won’t take failure for an answer. I’ve taught myself and learned from myself in more ways than I ever deemed possible. And the only thing that I’ve really learned from my experiences is “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know shit.”
This brings me to the observation that – everyone thinks they know it all at 15. Yes I know another cliché relative moment, but it’s true. You think you have everything figured out and for the most part that’s true. Let me explain. When you’re 15 you’re used to the world you reside in, most things are constant and there aren’t many variables to worry about (no bills, love, kids, cars, you get the point). You live a sheltered existence so you feel comfortable and feeling like you “know it all.” Then life kicks you into college and you figure out you had no idea what you were talking about. It takes you a little bit to figure out the college game, but you do and again you feel like you know it all. – Boom – life kicks you again, you’re outta college. Now what? Get a job? Where are you going to live? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be with? There are so many more things that you now have to think about that didn’t seem like that big of a deal when you were 15. Life stepped in – life got in the way. And here you are, just another face in the crowd. And you’re stuck with the same questions – what do you want to do with your life and who do you want to be?
And after all the dramatic nonsense, I’d like to point out that as much as daily monotony gets in the way – Life is a constant adventure. It is anything you wish it to be and to become. Obviously jobs and money, and other things get in the way. But that aside, if I asked you if you saw yourself how you are now 10 years ago, would your answer be yes? If it is, then hopefully it is everything you’d hoped. Otherwise I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say, utopian society and the dreams you had for yourself 10 years ago, aren’t the same. Those dreams don’t really exist as they once did or as you once believed they did. I mean if it were up to me, I’d be living with my potential future husband, we’d be planning our adventures and going through with our jobs not thinking about kids yet, but enjoying each other for company, companionship, and anything else we may need. We would be traveling the world and doing almost anything we want, obviously within monetary constraints. The last thing I would be doing is worrying about all the monotonous stuff. And yeah, that could happen in utopia and in the fantasy of Disney and MGM Studios. However we’re talking about reality here. I don’t honestly believe that you can’t have everything in life you want, but reality isn’t always that simple.
Like I said before – Life gets in the way. Money gets in the way. Your beliefs and actions and the outside world get in the way. Experience teaches you many things and that happens to be something that I’ve learned. It’s like you see this plan for yourself through your own eyes. It changes and adapts as you get further along. And somewhere along the way you end up somewhere you never meant to be. Sometimes that’s a good thing because where you ended up is even better than you could have ever imagined. And other times you ended up somewhere you never wanted to be. But due to forces beyond your control at the end of the day you still have to keep pushing forward. You don’t have any other choice but to endure what life gives you and make the best of it. The last thing that anyone wants is to wake up one day be able to take a step back and say, “shit, is this really my life? How did I get here?” I’m sure no one desires that, but at some point everyone faces it.
Experience along with almost everything in life (that I’ve come to know), seems to be some type of cruel trick of fate. Something you think and hope you have control over only to find you’re just a pawn in a chess game. You’re not in control. However, that’s not really a good thing to think on a daily basis. Hopefully we can find strength and attempt to take control of our lives or at least get to the point where we believe we control some of our own destiny. But that’s the kicker isn’t it? It wouldn’t be called destiny or fate if we had the power to tell it yes or no. Newsflash, life isn’t a multiple-choice question where “a” is the best choice and you only go down from there. There are more than a few choices that can get you where you’d like to go. Problem is, not all of them are things you’d like to do. So by default half the time they aren’t even options. Therefore in that sense, sure life is a multiple-choice question. But at the end of the day there isn’t some “teacher” quizzing you telling you that you’re wrong. At the end of the day you’re the judge of your life. People can judge you and tell you what you are and are not, but they don’t always matter. Sometimes they are people who are trying to help you, other times they could be people that don’t understand what you want or need. I believe that you are the one person that can be the harshest on yourself, but there is a flipside to this, you are also the easiest on yourself when you know or feel you can get away with it. For that, you need others that you trust and can confide in to help you along the way and for you to respect their judgment that they have your best interest is in mind.
However, keep in mind that you don’t always have complete control of how you judge yourself or what happens to you, nor can you always control your actions. But then again that’s not a terrible thing. To be in control all of the time would make life so much less worthy of joy and remembrance. The whole point is that the experiences we have in life shape who we are and who we become. We choose what we allow ourselves to experience and we choose how it affects us to a certain extent. Everyone is dealt a different hand and you have to use what you’ve been given to keep playing or change the game. You are who you are based upon the experiences you have in life and you can choose who you’d like to be at any time. But people don’t generally think that way. I had a friend tell me once that love wasn’t in the cards for him because he ruins it every time he has it. He went on to share with me that only sex was in the cards for him. I had to tell him that it was his choice entirely. He didn’t believe me. But that’s just it, isn’t it? His experiences have lead him to believe that he isn’t “worthy” of love and he’s not going to change those expectations because of those experiences. At least at this point in time.
As I said before, change can only come about when we are willing or forced. But you are still the one who decides how you take each experience. You control whether you learn something from an experience, enjoy it, or change from it. If you even acknowledge it at all.