Growing Up Is Knowledge: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago I dared myself to contribute to the world using words every week for one year.

I’m happy to say I did it.

Many of my posts were fulfilling. Others weren’t. That’s okay. The goal wasn’t to write an award winning piece every week. It was just to write a piece. I’ve mostly written about life-experiences but towards the end of the year I published a few pieces of fiction just for fun.

I always wanted to call myself a writer. But I never had the balls until now. We grow up thinking we need permission to do things we want to do; to join the basketball team, make the school play, or get into the dream college. But no one is going to tell you to write. With the internet and websites like Medium, you already have permission.

2014 was a good year. My first post looked back at what I learned in 2013. The learning has continued this year—several lessons have changed me for the better. Here are 10 of them:

1. Your Path Is Your Own
…if you want it to be. Comparing yourself to others is dangerous. As I consider grad school I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession of scouring the LinkedIn pages of colleagues to find what (if any) advanced degrees they hold. The only consistent thing I’ve found is that few share the same path. Make your own.

2. Communication Is Key
Nearly every issue I navigated at work or at home this year was a result of miscommunication. It’s a skill I continue to refine—and you should too. Communication is essential in all facets of life: with roommates, family, significant others and in the office. Sound communication enables us to be understood and to understand others. Remember: this means being a good listener, too.

3. Dating: Don’t Overthink It
For years I would put my crushes on a pedestal. I’m convinced this scared them off because I would overthink the situation. I began dating someone back in July in part because I wasn’t scared to approach her. My mindset going into that night was fuck-it-there’s-nothing-to-lose. When I saw her, my internal voice said she’s cute — go talk to her. And I did.

4. Don’t Settle For Less
The most significant thing I’ve learned in my current relationship is that there are incredible people out there who will treat you like the world. You deserve somebody awesome—don’t settle for less. But the mindset must be mutual. I do my best every day to match Sarah’s level of thoughtfulness and unwavering commitment.

5. You Are Capable of More Than You Know
This year I completed my first 70.3 Ironman. Three years ago when I was a sad excuse for a runner, this feat felt impossible. But I committed and pulled it off. Think of something you want to do but feels unattainable — then go do it. I promise you can. You’ll surprise yourself. And it feels amazing.

6. Trust In Something
“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
—Steve Jobs

I’m still figuring this one out. This year, “Things happen for you, not to you” resonated with me. Over the past few months I was sought out and interviewed for four different jobs. I didn’t get any of them. It hurt at the time. But looking back, it was for the best.

7. Write For Yourself
If you’re a beginner, write for yourself and no one else. Don’t try to please an audience. You’ll get caught up worrying about what they’ll think. Don’t focus on view counts either. They’re just one metric of success.

The most vulnerable piece I shipped this year got picked up on Thought Catalogue. A friend told me a lot of readers left rude comments. I never looked at them. Critics are just there to shoot you down. But if you ignore them, you’ll still be standing.

8. It’s Okay To Be Stuck
I’m currently going through some form of a quarter life crisis. It’s paralyzing. But I’m beginning to accept that it’s okay. Hiding or beating myself up over my feelings is foolish. This is what it feels like to be alive. Trust that everything will work out. Because it will.

9. Don’t Take Anyone for Granted
I almost lost my mom this year. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through—even harder for her. In those anxious weeks of waiting by the phone my relationship with her permeated my thoughts. I felt guilty. I felt like I could have been a better son. Now that she’s fully recovered, I’ve learned to stop and appreciate the important people in my life for who they are. Life is precious. Don’t take it for granted.

10. We Need You
We need better leaders. We need people to stand up for what they believe in. We need to rethink the way we do business, solve problems and govern society. Think about something that matters to you—something you want to change. Then do it. No one’s going to give you permission. It’s your turn. Go.

I will continue to write in 2015. In lieu of weekly posts, I will focus on longer, research driven pieces on topics ranging from education to economics.

They might suck at first, but that’s okay. My motive is to flex my writing muscles and tell important stories that need to be told.

Go take on the world. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to fuck up. But doesn’t that sound more exciting than not doing anything at all?

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