They say that youth is wasted on the young.
I might add that life is wasted on the living.
Only in our wise old years do we gain the perspective to look back on our skin not for its blemishes, but for its youthful glow; our friends not for their social rank, but for their acceptance of who we are; our bodies not for their dimples, but for their strength. Sometimes, when I’m suffering through a Peloton class, I look down at my fast powerful legs and see them through the eyes of my 90-year-old self who wishes she still had legs that could cycle like they do now. In those moments, behind misty eyes, my suffering ends and gratitude joins the workout. I get to do this.
It’s no different with our careers. We are the generation of the internet, the generation that benefited from the unlimited opportunities of the online world. We no longer have to be born into the Vanderbilt family lineage to have access to wealth. We no longer have to spend a lifetime climbing our way up a ladder to have access to success.
The rule book for a good life is collecting dust somewhere in the archives.
It has been replaced by golden gates, swung open, with free in-and-out privileges for anyone who has a dream.
Oh, but that’s where the simplicity of it ends. Because those golden gates are massive, intimidating, magical. We see others around us walking towards them and they’re radiating a magical unicorn glow. We peek behind the gates and it’s a scene straight out of Fantasia—vibrant, alive, limitless. Do we really belong here? The gates are open for us, but the courage to walk through them can be debilitating.
We walk up to these gates and look beyond, longingly. Not today. Today, I’ll go back to the comfort of my hut. I have it pretty good there after all. Anything I could want—bread, water, and laughter.
But every morning, we find ourselves walking up to these golden gates again. Curious to join the others, to join them in what sounds like laughter that’s a little louder, bread that’s a little sweeter, and water that’s a little crisper. And every morning, we return to our huts, noticing that no one else is curious about the golden gates. Do they not see it? Do they not want to explore it?
For those of us who see it, who crave deeply to explore it—this is my love letter to us.
It’s so easy to numb out from life. To forget the smell of flowers, to forget the salty taste of the ocean, to forget the bliss of drawing, the freedom of writing, and the joy of living.
The weight of our dreams is heavy. Allowing yourself to see your potential is painful, because you face your shortcomings. I’ve let go of my dreams many times. Started them, felt overwhelmed by them, and set them down. Did life the conventional way. For a week. There’s a deceptive serenity in these moments… a sense of calm before the storm. And then, my unborn dream, the one that’s still trapped inside of me, builds a fiery rage against me—blowing up every ounce of confidence, willpower, and strength within me.
How sweet, right?!
A decade of start, stop, restart. And yet, I’ve made so much progress. Even with the breaks, the pauses, the “should I burn all this to the ground?”—I’ve moved closer towards those golden gates.
Something clicked this year. I started to ask myself this question: If I’m still making forward progress with all my stops and starts, I wonder how exponential my progress would be if I just committed fully?
If I just fully dove into my deepest desires. If I proclaimed my goals to the world. If I fully showed the fuck up as myself. If I erected boundaries because I no longer questioned my power.
If every part of my being believes that I will accomplish my wildest dreams, then there’s no room for fear that I’ll fail.
That was my A-ha. When it finally clicked for me why a normal and conventional life can feel so easy while pursuing ambitious goals feels so heavy: it’s our belief in ourselves.
Belief is like the wind on a sail: the more of it you have, the more of your effort is taken care of by something outside of your sheer grit and willpower.
Living a conventional life comes with a built in belief system. We’ve seen it done a million times, and there’s not a single second wasted on second guessing yourself. Your sail catches the wind of conventional living and it’s sayanora from here on out.
But living an unconventional life? You’re put-putting your way out of the harbour, the ducks in the water beside you paddling their little feet faster than your boat. You’re second guessing why you’re on the boat, if you’re deserving to be on the water, if you’re doing it right, if maybe you’re out too early or too late in the day. You don’t see the wind, so you don’t put up the sails. You want to see the wind first. You want to feel your boat move before you commit to putting up the sails because what if everyone at the harbour sees you put your sails up but no wind catches it?
How backwards our little human brain can be sometimes.
What if we lived our life with the confidence of our 90 year old self who knows we’ve already achieved all of our deepest desires?
In her eyes, I am a powerful youthful goddess who has the world in the palm of her hands.
And you do too.
So let’s do something with that power, shall we?