I remember listening to this monologue on happiness by Ben Stein. Why are some happy and other not? Why are some living in a default state of joy and others wishing “if only”.
The answer was brilliantly simple.
The ones that are unhappy are people who let their parents or their family talk them into doing something for a career that wasn’t really them. They are people who wanted to be writers, actors, entertainers, performers, world travelers, but decided instead to take the cautious route and go into accountancy, law school or dental school.
Now these same people find themselves trapped in a career that is not them. Trapped in a life they did not want. Making a decent living and too scared to take the necessary risks to change.
So what about the happy ones? Easy, they made a decision to live. They decided to do what their hearts told them to do. They developed the inner strength and the courage to break free and go against the grain, go against the wishes of their peers, parents, or friends to pursue what they want for themselves.
They took risks, they took chances, and they tried a lot of different things until they got to where they wanted to be.
This very often meant working incredibly hard and living on the edge. But if it gets you to where you want to be, you can look back on your life and see those moments of struggle and weakness as some of your finest moments.
You can look back on your life and know it was not wasted.
I wrote this 10 years ago
Edge of David has been my personal blog for all that time and the above I wrote as a very unhappy, lonely 20 something year old guy. It resonated with me deeply then because it was me.
At that time I wanted to travel, write, be self employed, whatever. But the reality was that I just followed what American culture drives every young person towards. College, debt, a boring job at a company where you live for the weekends and never feel like you're getting ahead. A relationship with someone you're not that into and are settling on because you think you have no options.
I was living a life I did not want then, a life that was not for me. I remember thinking so clearly, "I wish I could just go as far away from here as possible" while standing in my parents backyard. I knew I had to change but had zero clue what to do exactly or what that change would look like.
Little did I know how radically my life would change in the next few years. Leaving everyone and everything I knew behind to teach English in Thailand for a few years while also trying to do something online as I wanted to be free.
I landed in 2011 in a completely different place, not knowing anyone, not speaking the language and making a life for myself.
Living on that edge proverbially, being broke for years (at my worst I was 7K in credit card debt) before having any success online. I spent years working like crazy as an ESL teacher by day and a creative person by night and thoroughly enjoying my life for the first time in a long time.
I get what Ben means how you look back on those moments of struggle as some of your finest. In the end, it was worth it because I got to where I wanted to be.