1. “Follow your heart.”
If I had a dollar for the amount of people who will say, “follow your heart,” in your twenties, I could probably retire by thirty. I fully understand that people mean well when they say this. And oftentimes outsiders see things that we don’t. But before you follow your heart, I think it’s important to ask, “Is my heart even in the right place?” The heart wants it wants. But that doesn’t mean what it wants is good for us in the long-term. Perhaps when our hearts, minds, and bodies are in sync, then following our heart is the right course of action. But questioning our hearts isn’t betrayal, it is vital.
2. “Do what feels right.”
We need to stop placing our temporary feelings above our fundamental values. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t particularly “feel” like going to work out early. And I sure as hell didn’t “feel” like walking twenty minutes to the gym in 1 degree weather. But I ignored my “feelings” and got up any way because what was important wasn’t my feelings; my body’s needs were what was important. Now this is a minor example but as a friend of mine, (Zaron Burnett) once wrote, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” And that especially applies to your feelings. Don’t be so hell-bent on listening to every whimsical feeling. You’ll end up missing long-term pleasure because of short-term pain.
3. “The future will take care of itself.”
The future exists in a place that none of us have access to. Just like the past, it is very much a place of fiction. However it is easy to put off the future and render it something that you should not worry about or be concerned by. Rather than worrying about the future or completely ignoring it, the future, like the past, should be contextualized in particular ways. With the past, it is better to look for the lessons that matter. With the future, it is best to visualize the kind of life you want, in the aggregate. And then it is best to work towards it in the present. Keeping in mind that picture of thr future you have, should always change with time and experience.
4. “Your 20s don’t really matter”
I will defend Gen Y to the death on a lot of fronts. But one thing that I think is more true than not about our stereotypes, is that we seem to be trying to putting off “growing up” as much as possible. And indeed, we should do our best to always keep our child-like enthusiasm and wonder. But there is a way to do that without becoming naïve. The truth is growing up is hard, and I’m not talking about superficial things, I’m talking about the things that matter – taking responsibility for your decisions, and recognizing that you are in charge of your life. It’s not easy getting used to this. But it is a natural transition of life. And when we accept it, we can find that it is actually empowering.
5. “You have to figure it out on your own.”
It is quite ironic that for a generation that puts-off growing up, we also want to be seen as independent and as “making it on our own.” But success is not the path of the lone wolf. No matter how hard you work, someone has to give you a break, a chance, an opportunity. The key of course is to be prepared so that when that chance comes, you make the most of it. But the notion that you can get to where you want to be on your own feeds into the worse side of an individualistic culture. Meet people, share your ideas (with caution), help them, and let them help you.
6. “Good things come to those who wait.”
I listened to a homily recently that said we spend a great part of our lives waiting. It seems that we’re always waiting for something – for someone to respond to an important email, for the next phase of our lives, to meet the right person, etc. And indeed some of us wait better than others. And I think an important aspect of life we forget is that as much as we can, while we can, we should keep ourselves busy when we wait. This idea that if we are passively waiting for the things we want is more fairy tale than anything else. Good things come to those who keep busy and keep working, while waiting.