I have a New Year’s Resolution for all of you. This has nothing to do with your weight, your friends, your family. No one is telling you to go the gym, to stop biting your nails, to get out more. I just want you to do one thing and embrace it fully. This year, I want you to listen to yourself. Listen to your own advice. So many of you write to me saying, “I know I shouldn’t but…” and “he says he’s not ready yet, but…” and “I know he sounds creepy, but…” Learn to structure a sentence without “but”.
I know I shouldn’t.
He’s not ready yet.
I know he sounds creepy.
Drop the conjunction. Listen to what you are telling yourself. Stop making excuses for people and start making strides for yourself. If someone isn’t making room for you in their life, don’t make room in yours for them. If things feel off, they are. If your gut and your mind are throwing up the timeouts begging you to listen, then listen.
I am not telling you to stop throwing caution to the wind. Every life worth living involves a few Hail Marys. Buy the plane ticket, quit the job, kiss the boy. But when you’ve overstayed your welcome and you know it, get the hell outta dodge. Not everyone or everything is going to be what you want it to be, and thank God, because if we constantly got everything we wanted, we would never be happy. Be thankful for the duds, for the misguided ideas, and for the best laid plans, because without them, we would have nothing to strive for. All I ask is that this year, you explore rather than dwell. You try rather than wish. You set your sights on the impossible rather than settling for what seems appropriate.
Every little piece of advice dolled out here revolves around two main ideas: do not give in and do not give up. So many of you are stuck in lives, relationships, and cycles you seemingly can’t get out of. Yes you can. And it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to seem impossible. You’ll get your dreams crushed, your heart shattered, your everything taken away. No one goes to war without losing a few men.
So if you’re stuck at a dead-end job, or surrounded by negative friends, I want you to do something scary and lonely. I want you to look for a way out. Enter your mind. Picture the depths of your cave of horrors. The gloom and poison and darkness your life possesses. Now tell me, how do you escape? You climb. You search for the light and oxygen and freedom and you climb ‘til your hands are raw and knees are bloody, ‘til you can barely breathe and hope is a memory. You climb. Some of you will be lucky. Some of you will find fortunes just around the bend. Some are already so blessed, but the rest… the rest must fight. Whether you rely on God, on each other, or on the comforting rhythm of your own heartbeat, you must remember that there is something better and sometimes the journey itself is the true destination. We are a species of seekers. We are builders, strivers, connectors.
Settle not on what seems inevitable. Accept not what is unworthy. There are billions of people in this world, every one more curious than the last. Every single one of them wants to feel important, needed, cared for. When you have a dream, people want to be part of it, for the success of one is the success of the group. Connect with people, reach out, talk to strangers, compliment them, email leaders, and never think you are less than you are. We all start exactly the same. We all end exactly the same.
The next time you’re asking for advice, listen to yourself first. Every life needs a few Hail Marys, every life needs a little common sense, but above all else, every life needs courage. To know your fate is a cruel trick, but to be able to write the journey we make is the greatest gift of all. I beg of you, do not squander that.
Before I flew back to New York, my father gave me a handwritten account of his childhood and teen years asking me to type them. He seemed embarrassed. “I thought if you guys were ever interested in my life, then it should be written somewhere. But you know, if you’re not, that’s OK. Just toss it.” After reading it and reflecting on my own childhood, my father did everything in his power to give me a better life than he had, a life worth reading. The back-burner is not enough. Mediocrity is not enough. A life un-lived is not enough. It’s not enough for me, it’s not enough for you.
I wish you not a happy new year, but an enviable new year. A year of confidence, success, and gall. A year of triumph and change, of love and joy. And may this year be the best year yet.