Ever since High School, I feel that there is this accepted mentality that we will all reach our most grand dreams the second we graduate from college. This of course, is not the case for most everyone (unless your father is the CEO of some giant corporation and you get to be VP after graduating from Harvard-but nobody likes that guy so I’ll move on).
There is this extremely unhealthy idealization that floats in the air during grade school that all your dreams will magically come true. Although this is not entirely a bad thing-it’s good to believe that your dreams will come true, I think the far better reality that needs to exist is that you will need to work very very very hard for your dreams to come true many many many years after you graduate and wade through the battle field that is the “real world.”
After almost a year of unemployment after graduating from university, and a month of becoming a freelance journalist (which is about as inconsistent as the weather in Texas) I came to realize how much easier it would have been if I detached from my sense of entitlement and instead focused on becoming a hard worker.
Entitlement says “I deserve a full time job at my dream company where I can write whatever I want and win the Nobel Prize.” Hard Work says “If I work my butt off with what I have now, maybe after a few years of learning and getting better at my craft I can make it closer to my goals.” Now which is better, entitlement or hard work?
The answer is obvious. Hard work trumps all. You know what I find really attractive in people, successful people? When they start out with very little, work hard, learn a lot, and that perseverance and determination directly resulting in their earned success.
If I had just decided early on that I didn’t deserve anything but had to earn it I believe I would have a much healthier outlook on life than I do now (which I am trying to change). The world doesn’t owe you anything. People and strangers don’t owe you anything. You are not as good as you think you are at your craft. You have a lot to learn and a long way to grow before actually deserving what you dream of. I wish someone had sat me down and told me these things during unemployment when I was being my lazy and entitled self.
On a different note, taking criticism the right way can really help mature you. I used to feel horrible when I would get major edits on an article. But when I decided to accept that I am not the best writer and that I have a lot to learn all of a sudden I felt much more at ease. It’s ok to make mistakes. We are young and naive! But it’s also great to decide you want to learn and keep moving forward. That state of mind is where passion and knowledge flourish.
So instead of wasting my time during the weeks I am not working I’ve decided to practice this new state of mind. I will try to devour articles, stay vigilant of the news, read more memoirs on how people I admire have achieved success, and practice writing on my own even when there is not an audience or paycheck.
Sure all of your dreams can come true. But it takes loads of mistakes, mountains of hard work, the stubbornness to stick to your passion, years of sleepless nights, and a sprinkle of that naivety to believe that maybe one day it will all work out. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter as much as you thought it would. Because through all that time of working hard and trying to grow you’ve become a much better person.