Ah, the shortsightedness of youth. We thought we knew it all.
We thought we knew everything about everything; that we were ahead of the game. We were ahead of the curve and that we knew what to do, what to say, and when to say it.
I suppose youth is slightly one-sided in the fact that our predictions never reached so far as to understand that there are other sides of life. There is opposition. There is competition. There are the compilations of fate in which life comes along and throws us a curveball. And there we are thinking, “I never saw that one coming.” Meanwhile, we had been warned “Don’t do it” by people with experience.
It would take me a long time to count the warnings that I was given. Then again, if I looked back through the eyes of an honest assessment and if I focused upon the times of my know-it-all-ness, I could spend days counting the warning signs or the times when someone told me “Don’t do it!”
But I did it anyway.
I am thankful for the capriciousness of my youth and my historical insanities that led me to where I am. I am thankful for the pushes I received as well as the pardons, as well as the forgiveness I was given, which I might not have deserved at the time. But still, I am thankful. I am thankful for the patience of those who did not give up on me as well as the agony of those who did.
I am thankful for those who put me down. I am more thankful for the outrage of those who degraded me, both publicly and privately. I am grateful for those who said I would never make it; that I will never have their advantages, and that at best, I will push a broom for the rest of my life or find myself at some menial job with no point, no passion, and with no one to blame but myself.
I am thankful for my first sales job, which I hated. I am thankful for the times when I was put down in a sense; when I was shamed into submission or thought that for some reason, I was less than.
I am grateful for those who told me that I don’t “belong” or for those who say my background is “disturbing.”
I am thankful for my inability to fit in the box and for my desire to want better. Then again, I am thankful for the ability to endure – even when I did not want to endure or when I thought I could not endure; somehow, I endured. I lived through hard times and great times and sad times as well.
I have made my fair share of big mistakes. And to be clear, I am really good at making big mistakes. I have a knack for creating catastrophes.
I’ve been on the poor side of HR conversations and on the opposite side of employment. And yes, I know why this happened. I see where my defects of character stepped in to wreck the day.
I can recall the times when I was caught in a bad space and I was afraid of the outcomes. I can remember the times when I was on the ledge, afraid to fall – but my fear was forgotten once the threat of the ledge was gone.
No one ever thinks they will be caught up in a hassle. No one expects themselves to be hurt or that trouble will find them. Or, in the fast pace of a youthful mind, no one predicts the aftermath. No one figures the casualties or the people who will be hurt.
And what? Isn’t this just life? Most times in my youth I swore that I was not hurting anyone but me, But I was wrong.
Ah, the wasteful ideas of youth. This is where all the input is based on ideas without the benefit of experience. We moved along without assumptions.
I can recall starting a new job with a case of overzealousness. There were the people who had been there for a long time. There were the people who were seasoned with experience as well as an understanding of what it’s like to work with other people in a crew.
And to me, I suppose this was a means of “Just do your job!”
Maybe it was a case of doing a job. Or, maybe I was a new kid on the street who came in and acted as if I knew everything. But I didn’t know anything.
I was too young to understand the difference between arrogance and confidence. I was too young to understand that arrogance is nothing more than fake confidence at a higher volume. And me, my volume was probably around the range of nine or ten on the volume dial.
Of course, now I look back at some of my younger jobs. I think about my old working relationships. I think about a sales manager who threw a stapler at me, who took my chair away from my desk, and a person who is one in the same, who dumped my little wastebasket all over my desk.
I look back and think about the training and the lack thereof. I think about how life prepares us for life without any preparation.
More accurately, life happens. We live through this. We learn. We adapt. We grow. And if we are lucky, we learn enough to understand that our happiness and our best interest does not come in a can or from an outside source. Experience is a great teacher. . .
There was a night when I was with The Old Man after a long day of working as his apprentice. I was tired. More accurately, I was filthy from working inside of a boiler room. I had black soot all over my face and on my hands – and though I washed several times, this was the kind of dirt that took days to get off.
The Old Man decided that we were going to sit for dinner before going home. I didn’t want to go because I was dirty and tired. The Old Man explained that this was his decision and, therefore, like it or not, we were going to sit at a place with bright lights and lots of people.
The name of the place was called Fuddrucker’s. I was never much of a fan of this place. But The Old Man liked it.
The Old Man told me something which I never grasped until I was older. He told me, “Never be ashamed that you got your hands dirty for a living.”
I was too young to realize his pride in this event. I was too young to see that to him, this was more than eating a burger. To him, this was a declaration of time between a father and son. This was about a father and son who worked together. This was a moment of pride for The Old Man to say “This is my son!” and I’m proud.
I don’t think I was able to grasp this concept until later in my life. Then again, I was only young at the time. I saw through young eyes and spoke with a young mouth.
I have to say this here an now: The funny thing about working with young people as a support specialist is these damned kids think they know everything. Likewise with the older people who I’ve supported in the same regard – they think they know it all too.
I think about this.
I think about the freedom of humility. How amazing it would be if we relinquished the need to act as if we know it all. How freeing it would be if we did not have the need to be right all the time.
I think about the freedom of life without the banter of back and forth arguments. Rather than act like we know, we can be humble and free enough to realize there is no crime in admitting that we don’t know.
Someone once told me, I don’t want to be right anymore.
I just want to be happy.
I think saying something like this shows growth. I say this shows maturity. I say this is the humble nature which leads a person away from the right or wrongs of opinions and opens them to a world without the involvement of hostile environments.
When I was young, I thought I needed to be heard. I swore I needed to be validated. I swore I knew it all and that I needed to be right. And to be fair, I still struggle with this.
I still have the need to be right. But as I grow, my needs to be happy outweigh my needs to be heard; in which case, I’ve learned to walk away from arguments.
I’ve learned to be open to suggestions. I’ve learned to heed the warning signs because as I age, I have learned that the windows of opportunity will close.
As well, I learned that my youthful concepts of life and death were limited to a youthful assumption. But nothing lasts forever. Life changes. People change and situations change too.
All we can do is learn to adjust and adapt.
So we can live.
So we can dance.
So we can heal. . .