I always wanted to be 'normal'. I wanted to fit in with society and lead a simple life. But in reality, I was always the outcast. The odd one out. The one with many distinctive labels that set me apart. The one that wants to stay low-key and avoid the spotlight, but always catch unwanted attention for being so different.
For instance, I am a quiet introvert. I think a lot inside my head, I prefer listening than speaking, and I only speak up when I feel the need to. And I always get called out for it.
However, I've learned to love and accept myself over the years. I enjoy solitude and care a lot less about what others think of me now. I am generally a very calm soul and I don't express myself often or feel the need to explain myself.
Recently it never occurred to me until a few people pointed out that for a 23-year-old, I was quite different from my friends and young millennials today.
I didn't share the same hobbies of some people I know. Perhaps I was a bit more mature, serious, and career-oriented based from my own past struggles and experience with being so occupied with my perfectly planned out future career, life goals, and should-have-my-life-figured-out mindset (by now).
But I am only 23 years old. I am young and I have my whole life to explore the world. It's an amazing thought to know that some the best days of my life have yet to come. All the adventures and lessons I will learn along this beautiful journey called life.
I've always taken life very seriously. At a young age as 6, I saw life as being hard. The world as a harsh place to be. That you just can't trust anyone in this world.
But now I've adapted a different type of mindset. I've learned a lot over the years and I've been surprised a number of times of how genuine some people can be. I now have faith in humanity. I love connecting with people and I believe in the "impossible." I see life with open doors and tons of opportunities and possibilities.
Hence, this year I've attended many conferences, workshops and networking events. I have my business cards, elevator pitch, professional social media tools, crazy entrepreneurial ideas, and big dreams. I fill my schedule with reading self-help books, enrolling in various courses, and attending coffee meetings.
Does that sound like most 23-year-olds that you know? There are definitely many out there, besides the well-known multimillionaire entrepreneurs. I'm referring to those fighting to simply obtain a job as a recent graduate with the high unemployment rate in our economy today. Or those on the road to self-discovery. I personally only know quite a few young people that hustle solo like I do. One year ago today, I wouldn't be brave enough to attend or be involved in these events all on my own, but today after everything that I've been through and come to believe, I'm all for that life.
One of my close friends makes fun of me because I would talk about conferences at 2 am in the morning much too frequently while he talks about dating. What can I say? My dreams and life goals keep me up at night and wakes me up early and excited to start my day and take action.
The other day I bumped into a classmate from high school and we caught up. He told me that he thinks I'm quite serious and I seem to have it all figured out (when in reality - I don't, we all don't). He asked me what my hobbies were. I told him that I have normal hobbies though he didn't think so. He believes that the typical hobbies of a majority of young people are partying, drinking, clubbing, and attending concerts. I do all of which he has listed, more frequently a few years back throughout undergrad, but not so much now. I've chosen to spend less of my time doing those activities nowadays. Also, the people that I've been surrounded by lately are all very inspiring, ambitious, and successful leaders, entrepreneurs, and changemakers.
Ever since I've stepped into the real world and obtained my first full-time job, I've spent a lot less time with my friends, which is perfectly normal. Work becomes a part of your life and everybody is busy with their own lives especially in our fast-paced society today, with our overly-ambitious schedules.
Nowadays, I spend a majority of my free time reading books and articles about career development, leadership, personal and professional growth and development. I obsessively follow successful idols such as Tony Robbins and Bob Proctor. I volunteer my time helping out at conferences and found my tribe of trailblazers, most of which are a lot older and experienced than I am. However, I love to connect with them because we share the same burning desire to create change and live the life of our dreams. I love the energy that these people have, and the meaningful and insightful conversations that I have with them.
These people are doing things that I want to be doing and they are the people that I want to become. Many are working towards their dream and they share their inspiring story of failures and mistakes which are lessons and blessings that shape who they are today. They keep their faith, persevere, and manifest their thoughts to reality.
At one conference, I was sharing my story with one of the volunteers which was over 10 years my senior. I was telling him how I much I believe in networking and how I've been trying to connect with one of the speakers present that day, several times in person and over email. This person was popular and probably too busy to respond. Even though I had brief contact with her, she doesn't know me in a much more personal level other than just another volunteer. But I was okay with that for now. I believe that she will be my mentor and we will work together someday.
That man looked at me and told me that he thought that I was inspiring.
He said that when he was 23 all he did was party and drink and he wouldn't be thinking or working so hard for his future. He was so genuine about it and he told my sister about me while I was present.
It was definitely one of the best compliments I've ever received, but I'm just happy to know that on that very day I was a part of a seminar that changed a couple hundred lives, including my family and a few close friends, and that I inspired this man that I just met.
I did have several more people that applaud me for being brave enough to take charge of my own life. My mentor who completely believe in my limitless potential, that I had big things in store for the future. My biggest influences and supporters of all time - my family, believe that I will be successful and have a great future ahead of me for all that I am doing now.
Sometimes we need the reminder from the people around us to keep going even when times get tough.
Nothing that comes easy is worth having.
Great things take time and effort.
Successful people do not conform. I no longer strive to be 'normal.'
"If you want something you've never had, you've got to do something you've never done."