So today Yes and Yes asked people what they wish they knew at 22. There is one real lesson I wish I had totally figured out by then, and it's rather cliche. Sorry, I'm not very original. The problem with this lesson is that even after figuring it out, it's really quite difficult to follow through with. I admit, I'm not quite there yet myself.
I wish I had realized way earlier that doing what you love, rather than what people think you should do, will bring you the greatest success in life.
I grew up as the first child and had immense pressure to attend college and do well, particularly from my father, who never graduated from college and made, what he feels, to be a whole bunch of life mistakes. My parents, like all parents, want me to be successful at life. They also had their own opinions about what a successful life means. For them, a successful life is not having to worry about money - something they've always been very aware of. This means you get a degree in a math or science related field that's going to remain stable and make money.
I was pretty much set on my path in 8th grade when I was accepted into both the advanced art class and the advanced engineering class - I wanted to do both, but the school wouldn't let me. Following the advice of the principle and my parents, who argued that I could always take an art class later, I ended up in the engineering class. And never got the chance to take an art class again. The same thing pretty much happened with college, where I let my parents push me towards a degree that I wasn't really into...and that I wasn't really good at. Which became obvious after a year of struggling and mediocre grades. I think that for a long time my parents would have rather have had me be mediocre at something they thought was relevant, than excel in a field where employment and high paying jobs were scarce. I eventaully switched majors to what was the closest thing to a liberal arts degree at my school (which was not very close at all to be honest), and while I was "successful" at it (if you count getting As as meaning success), it wasn't something I loved. Eventually I ended up on a life path that I was pretty good at and that I didn't totally dislike, but it wasn't something I really enjoyed, it wasn't something I loved. There were times when I could have gone a different route, changed my path in life, but unfortunately I continued to make decisions based on influence from outside parties for many years to come.
So what I'm saying is that basically you just have to go for it. If you know what's going to make you happy, you need to take a stand and do it. You have two choices in life - either be happy and do what you love or don't be happy and do what other people think you should do. That's what it really comes down to. I've been in school college for 10 years now...this entire time I've been slowly coming around in a circle back to what I've always wanted to do...10 years and I'm still not there yet. I could have been there so long ago if I just stopped letting people dictate what was right for me to do.
Sure, it's been a life experience, I've gained a lot of knowledge about all sorts of random stuff, about my self, gains some skills, and had I not gone about this path I'm sure Tony and I would have never met, etc. But I'm still not where I want to be. I'm working on it, but I'm still not there. It's never too late to right a wrong or make a life change, but it sure as hell would have been easier if, at any point in these past 10 years, I said, YO! It's time for a change! and took a gamble at going after something I love.
Money is important. You need it to live. But if you're doing what you love, if you love to do it, if you want to get up and go to work every day? Well, then I think the money will follow...or at least enough money to make you happy. And hey guess what, you're already doing something you love, the money is just the cherry on top.
In case you haven't noticed this is also a little pep talk to myself right now.
But seriously, what's the worst that could happen?