California is a long way from home.
This week a young man, whom I first met over half-dozen years ago as a middle-school student practicing a new skateboard trick in the middle of the cul-de-sac on our block, is moving across the country.
While California represents a tremendous distance when measured by the odometer on a car’s dashboard, the bigger gap is the one he’ll see in the rearview mirror. Building a brand new life without your traditional support system while life throws its best challenges at you can be daunting.
Statistically, a great many of us know this from personal experience. Picking up and moving away from the family and friends we’ve known our entire lives is in many ways, the moment we really begin to grow up. Life begins – for real – when you begin making adult decisions without the security of a safety net below.
The other night I saw a few photos of him at a family going-away party move across Facebook. Looking at the photos of the young man – only a relatively short time from his departure – I joined others posting words of encouragement.
“Go change the world,” I wrote.
But within minutes my words felt increasingly inadequate. While I truly meant what I wrote, I knew there was so much more I wanted to share. Life is to be lived with a vengeance – embracing each and every moment with passion and commitment to leave your personal contribution behind.
But life without a safety net can be tricky.
While this isn’t meant to be a manifesto, I do wish I could’ve shared a few more thoughts many of us learned along this very road.
Life will not be fair. Like gravity, learn to accept this natural force of life. In each experience will be a lesson you can learn and apply to a future opportunity. If you don’t, you’ll get stuck in a quagmire of unhappiness never recognizing the true opportunities in life when they come around.
You will make your own luck. Good things happen to good people – but more times than not they’ve also worked hard to put themselves in position to take advantage of the opportunity. Again, this is one of those inarguable forces of the universe.
Always remember who you truly are. New experiences will bring new opportunities and people into your life. When in doubt, always do a gut check to the very basic principals that helped steer you though difficult times in your life. Your gut is your friend and generally right.
Don’t be afraid to change. Not to contradict the earlier point, but change is good so long as you are growing and learning in a productive direction. None of us could ever accurately project the person we eventually became later in life.
You will become the sum of your experiences and actions. Make sure you make good decisions, as life doesn’t come with an eraser.
Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. The sooner you recognize you’ll never fully figure out the universe, the better your life will be. Just ask around if you don’t believe me.
And finally, your family will always love you. Consider this your personal lucky charm when things get really tough – as will happen. No one gets out of life without a few of these chapters.
California – or anyplace you choose to go while leaving all you know in the rearview mirror – is a long way from home. Those of us who’ve already cut our own paths in life are truly excited for you. And as Apple founder Steve Jobs liked to say, “go put a ding in the universe”.
– 30 –