There isn’t a guidebook to yourself. Find you is more like an unexpected journey and less like a passage to India with a seasoned escort who arranges and pampers. I suppose there are those who are gifted with the latter and step purposely through life without ever taking a wrong turn or suffering the anguish of a questionable mishap, but not me. I’ve chartered my course and had the occasional setback.
A few days after my thirteenth birthday, I stumbled upon free will, choice, and reckless abandonment. It occurred to me that rules were scripted by others who had their best interests in mind and not mine. It was only a notion, fuzzy and not within my grasp, but I had this vague sort of feeling that life wasn’t preordained and was mine to plot out however I saw fit. Back then I was fearless and suffered from ignorance is bliss syndrome.
My new awareness saw me breaking rules, curfews, and other assorted minor infractions, which resulted in bedroom imprisonment, suspension of human rights and coveted liberties, including but not limited to, denied access to electronic devices or hanging out with besties. There were other ramifications but nothing so painful or restrictive to keep me from exploring life outside of the boundaries my parents had drawn.
It wasn’t until later did I come to realize there was a cost associated with living life outside of the lines. I would also come to understand all too painfully and rather annoyingly that for each action there was an equal if not greater reaction. It became heartbreakingly clear that individual choices could/would effect, and in some cases, hurt others, irrevocably. Others—friends and lovers, strangers and random encounters—could and would influence my decisions, my life, break pieces of me away, steal both my friendship and love, unhinge and nearly break me. But there were those who would give and gift, so abundantly I’d conveniently forget any associated negative byproducts.
Along the way, I left chunks of me on the side of the road. I found some pieces were not needed or just too heavy to carry along. Life, I learned, had a peculiar way of teaching lessons and extracting payment. I took notes on my journey and unconsciously created a cheat sheet to help me remember my innocent perspective on life.
- Don’t be surprised if and when you force yourself to walk away from a dream for someone you love, even after a long a laborious decision and paying a hefty cost.
- Be prepared to sacrifice a piece of your heart for a passion you might fail to realize.
- Have a contingency plan—a safe harbor to retreat to—when your flights of fancy take a nose dive.
- Always operate heavy machinery responsibly. In other words, limit alcohol intake following any disasters or breakups.
- All rules, biblical, constitutional, parental, and self-written, are subject to interpretation and thoughtful introspection before rewriting or breaking.
- Have faith in your choices, regardless of the outcome.
- Leave your ego at the door. Having humility in moments of grandeur will yield long-term benefits, as will shouldering your defeats with dignity. Both extremes require measured reserve.
- Throw caution to the wind and live for the rush knowing life holds absolutely no guarantees regardless of invested effort or skill. Accept that life is a pinch of hard work and luck in equal measure. Sometimes the latter carries more weight than the former.
- Refuse to accept defeat.
- Remember there is no such thing as failure. It’s only fear of regret and defeat holding you on the safe side of a decision.