I am 100% responsible for my life. The person I have become, how much or how little I have accomplished, how much I own and how much I owe. How many friends I have and how many enemies. The lines on my face and the letters after my name. It's all on me. And I am totally willing to accept this reality and believe I am empowered by it.
Where I grew up, there were plenty of people who had a leg up in life from the start. Their parents had money, status, and connections and they taught their children how to leverage these assets to get even more. Some of them also had good looks, charisma, and intelligence, giving them even more of an unfair advantage. I went to school with people who started the game of life holding all the best cards and those of us with a lesser hand envied them. We wanted to be friends with them, to date them, to be them. We settled for being noticed by them and not with disdain or rejection. They truly had it all and everyone expected them to have truly magical lives.
If you are old enough to have attended your twenty-year high school reunion, then you will know for yourself that one of the most astonishing things about life is how it can be such an equalizer of people. If you are patient enough and wise enough, you will learn that no matter how you started off, life shapes us all by our circumstances, and what really matters is not the beginning of the race, but the part from the middle to the end. I started to notice at the 10-year reunion that time has begun to tarnish some of the shiniest ones, while others who had been barely noticed in our shared past were now assuming the center stage of our shared attention.
By the next go-around, a decade later, the transformation was even more alarming. I began to recognize that some are born lucky but anyone can become special, which is far more satisfying because it is earned. The nerds who had been far too shy and emotionally immature to date were now successful entrepreneurs, with gorgeous wives and social skills, while the jocks were drinking far too much and complaining about the job market and wives who wanted too much. It took me a while to realize that I was in the driver's seat of my life and all the reasons I had for why I wasn't doing better in this area or that, why my relationships never worked out, why I just couldn't seem to stay happy for long was nobody's fault, not even mine. It was all just a matter of how I looked at it and what I decided to think.
Jealousy and envy are such a waste of time and make us petty and small. If only we had the courage to recognize that jealousy is just the dark side of admiration and use that as a source of inspiration instead of a source of bitterness. Especially now, in the age of social media, when everyone is comparing themselves and finding themselves falling short, why don't we seek out the opportunity to become more of what we choose to be, instead of shrinking back and making excuses. I so wish I could go back in time and approach all of the impressive people and see what I could learn from them, instead of being intimidated, feeling insecure and using it as an excuse to hold myself back. Ugh.
It might sound harsh to say I am utterly and completely responsible for my life and everything in it, but it actually feels great. Self-pity, playing the victim card and thinking small may take the pressure off at the moment, but in the long run, all you end up with it a great big pile of regret and no time left for a do-over. Embracing the understanding that everything you have and everything you are is because of the choices you have made is actually super empowering once you wrap your mind around it because you are the only person you have the slightest control over. If you were a victim of your circumstances or someone else's behavior, you are pretty well shit out of luck with changing that. When you are in the driver's seat, you can hit the gas pedal, make you turn, or get out of the damn car and walk. It's up to you. Now, you actually have to do something with that responsibility to make good use of it, but even if you decide not to, that choice is under your control as well.
Guilt, shame, embarrassment, regret are all useless emotions because they keep us stuck in the past, where we can't change a damn thing. Keeping your eye on the future, raising yourself up to the challenge and setting new goals that stretch you each and every day is the way to live a life you can be proud of and a person you feel good about being. It's up to you.