I celebrated my 40th birthday last week and I have had a few days off from work to reflect on my life so far. I have tried to remain as objective as possible in my self-evaluation and I have seen mostly that my greatest triumphs weren’t really that great, and my greatest failures really weren’t that horrible. Time cures all wounds apparently, and it also dulls all glimmers as well. I decided to come up with a list of five things that I have learned here, halfway through my life, that might help me improve my situation in the future, as well as give some motivation or inspiration to those who read this. Take from it what you will and ignore it if you choose, but understand that these are my own personal observations and are skewed by my life experiences. Here is my short list of things I believe to be true.
No matter how smart or how experienced you are, if you do not have a college degree, you will not be taken seriously in the workplace.
I was in the Navy for 14 years and I have a ridiculous amount of experience in nuclear power as an operator and as an instructor. I have excelled at all levels in my profession. None of it matters until I get my degree. Any degree. From any college. If you are a young person and you hope to be successful in the future, but are unsure about college, I am the poster child for why you need to go to college and get your degree. Do it. Now. The older you get, the less likely it will be that you complete your degree. Education is non-negotiable.
It is OK to believe in God. It is also OK to not believe in God. It is not OK to force or coerce others to share your beliefs.
My mother is a devout Catholic woman. She prays for me on a regular basis. I am glad that she does because it gives her comfort. She has never asked me to go to church with her as an adult because she knows that I do not believe what she believes. I think that she has the right idea. I think that Jesus had the right idea. Love everyone. Sounds right to me.
If you have peace at home, everything else falls into place.
I have a wonderful wife. She makes our home into the safest, most comfortable place in the world. No matter what is going on at work or anywhere else that gets me wound up, coming home is always a pleasure. This allows me to recharge and take on the world with new energy every day. Mutual respect and honesty between me and my wife is what allows this to happen. She is the most important thing in my life and the feeling is reciprocated. It makes life much easier.
Normally, the only person you can point a finger at to blame is yourself.
I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. Stayed in the Navy too long. Didn’t finish my degree. Two failed marriages. Too much partying. General stupidity. It is always really easy to blame someone or something for your own short-comings like the economy, or the job market, or President Obama’s policies (couldn’t resist a little Mark Sanford jab there). At the end of the day, anything bad that takes place in your life is ultimately your own fault. I didn’t work hard enough, I didn’t make the correct decisions, I didn’t listen to my parents, the real reasons are there and they hurt. Learn from the things that you failed at in the past.
Last, but not least. Live your life how you want to live it.
We are a society that is encumbered by artificial standards. We are pressured to marry in our twenties, to buy a house and have children. We are pressured to fit in to a cookie-cutter path of "success". We are supposed to settle down and grow up. We are told that we need to act our age and be proper in order to be a functional member of society. I say that this is all bullshit. Live the way that makes you happy. If you want to get married, fine. If not, fine. If you want to get married to someone who is the same sex as you, fine. If you want to be a street musician, fine. If you want to travel and not live in one place, do it. Never allow anyone to tell you how to be happy or how to live your life. Project yourself on the world. Make the world react to you, not the other way around.
In my short 40 years of existence, I really have to say that I have been fortunate. I have a wonderful family who supports me and loves me. I have traveled all around the world. I have witnessed beauty and I have experienced more success than failure. I would like to believe that I am living my life more right than wrong, based on the results. The way I figure, I have lived the first half of my life so far. I am excited and motivated to live the second half even better.