It takes heat and pressure to make diamonds. Rocks in a rock tumbler eventually become smooth, precious gemstones from banging into each other. The hard path eventually leads to the easy life, and the easy path eventually leads to a hard life. And other cliches about struggling to be a necessary part of life.
The gap between doing honest, hard work in your life and constantly taking the shortcuts and immediate gratification is the gap between feeling like a resilient bad ass who can handle anything that comes their way in life, and being a person who is constantly terrified that their life is about to collapse and they won’t have any say in the matter.
I am not saying that you should seek out suffering arbitrarily. You don’t need to whip yourself through life. I am simply saying that you should be conscious of whether or not your life is entirely void of struggle. Because if it is, then you will be worse off for it.
3. Invest in your emotional self-care
Alright, now we’re getting into the juicy stuff. This point and the next one are, personally, my biggest ‘HOW WERE WE NOT TAUGHT THIS STUFF IN SCHOOL!?’ realizations in life.
Maybe you had a drastically different schooling experience than I did, but I was taught approximately zero minutes of education on stress management, emotional processing, and targeted self-awareness.
I remember constantly wondering as an especially anxious teenager about questions such as: How does one relax? How do I make friends with my emotions? What should I do with my life? How do I access my tears? Is it okay that I feel angry sometimes?
Can you imagine the ripple effect of a generation of people being mandated to learn more about their feelings? To increase their vocabulary and felt experiences of their internal thoughts and emotions? My guess is that the divorce rate, number of suicides, and instances of sexual assault would drop dramatically within a decade.
I believe deeply in this world vision. I believe in a future reality where at least 20% of secondary school classes are more akin to group therapy than they are to prisons solely focused on skill development.
Put an honest effort toward this area of knowledge. Speaking from experience, you will go so much further in life if you know how to anticipate periods of stress and nip them in the bud before they take you down.
4. Everything is a job
One of my greatest fears during my schooling years was that one day in the future, there would come a time when the ‘real world’ started and I would have to choose one of approximately ten jobs to engage in. Doctor, lawyer, electrician, bus driver, tradesman….. here they are, take your pick. That’s all you get.
Granted I went to high school during years when high-speed internet access (and computers at all) were only just starting to become commonplace… so many of the jobs that are options now didn’t exist for people on a mass scale.
But if there’s one thing I would impress upon a crowd of high schoolers if I were to give a 30-minute talk as of today, it would be on this exact topic. Absolutely everything is a job.