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10 Tough Life Lessons: Part I

Posted in Philosophy, Society and Morals, and Spotlight on Humanity

keep-calm-because-life-is-one-big-lessonYou can be a theoretical idealist, but when adulthood hits, you slowly become a realist (or remain in denial). It’s a fact of life, and something that books, and school can’t teach you. These are the harsh life lessons most of us go through, with differing outcomes. Some people attempt to remain idealists or compromise within reason, but life throws at us a few ideological myths. There are the theoretical things that ought to happen, but I have discovered theory and reality can be Universes apart. Sometimes theories are logical, but human nature and behavior isn’t! No guidebook on life can prepare you for these knocks, or character building experiences. However, each of us in turn discovers our own realities that make us a little stronger, but also slightly skeptical or at times overly cautious. Here are some skeptical, but honest and truthful realities that exist—we as a society may not admit to some of these openly, but know them to be true behind closed doors.

Not every one will like you. You can’t like everyone, and not everyone will like you. It’s a fact, and very often there is no actual reason for it. As humans we get drawn to others, whether it’s a meeting of the minds, or a physical attraction, and even gut instinct. Accept that not everyone will like you or want to add you as a friend on Facebook (there’s nothing worse than a friend rejection), and it’s their loss not yours. This includes family members, where many despite blood ties just don’t like one another. You may love your brother as a sibling, but it doesn’t mean you have to like them as a person. Once you realize this, it’s much easier to focus on those who like you, and you like back than to waste energy and wondering why someone doesn’t like you.

Being nice and kind doesn’t always mean people will appreciate it. Humanity has become quite selfish, and recent generations have emerged who feel they are entitled to things. People don’t appreciate help or kind gestures (because they now expect it), but that doesn’t mean you should stop being nice or thoughtful—it’s them and not you. Don’t stoop to their level, but lead by example. Thank you is a simple phrase—one that escapes the vocabulary of many today.

Nepotism exists and you can’t fight it. Ignore all those equal opportunity clauses in job advertisements because nepotism is as rife today, as it was centuries ago. The best person does not always get hired—who you know matters more than your brains, qualifications, or how you look. The problem is you can never prove it, so it goes unchallenged. I once worked in a company where my direct manager was useless (but a friendly and nice chap) with no experience. I asked how he got the job, and apparently because he was South African (the same as the CEO), she created jobs for him and his girlfriend to help them out. In another job, I asked how the beauty editor of the magazine got her job; she told me that she had no experience but needed a job, and her sister (the editor) gave her the job. If you don’t get a job and you are more than suitably qualified, accept that the job may have gone to a family member of friend. They just have to go through the motions of interviewing people to fulfill the protocols. It may not be fair, but that’s how things work.

Money doesn’t make you happy, but it makes life easier. It’s true, money doesn’t make you happy, but not having to worry about paying the bills, where you will sleep, or when will you have a hot meal again does make life easier. I know millionaires and those from privileged backgrounds who constantly moan and whine—they aren’t happy, and many are single, divorced, or having an affair. Those who say don’t worry about money, well, that’s fine when you have no financial worries. Many suicides are over financial debt, or people survive hand to mouth and don’t really enjoy life. Money does help, and makes a difference, but isn’t the key to happiness.

People will lie and cheat. The trick is to figure out when they are lying and to choose to confront them, catch them out, or to let it go. As children we are taught not to lie, yet in adulthood, there are multiple lies, exaggerations of the truth, or people choosing not to disclose information. Their premise is that if the question is not asked, then it’s not lying. It does get legal in terms of a duty of care, but honesty is seen as a trait for the weak, and liars get ahead. Sadly, many do and get away or cover up deceit. You then have to decide whether to overlook it (if you are an employee and don’t want to get fired), or whether your integrity is more important. Honesty exists, but is becoming rare. Learning how to spot a liar is an important trait, then to figure out how to handle it.

Life isn’t fair. What is fair? Fairness exists in the mind, and is based on rewards for actions, but who can judge whether that action was right or not? It’s all subjective. Few of us will go through life never thinking about how fair life has been, but maybe that was never the point of life. We can’t and shouldn’t judge our lives and compare them to others, but human nature does this subconsciously. It may not be fair you weren’t born tall, came from a rich family, were attractive, had opportunities to travel, or fell in love. Life is like the luck of the draw; it may have been predestined and there is nothing you could have done to change things.

It’s never too late to go back and study. Theoretically this is true, as mature students are on the increase. However, there is prejudice not only in the educational system, but society. Grants and scholarships are less forthcoming, teachers are less inclined to interact with mature students, and places are less readily available. Students are judged to have failed at a young age, and assumed they are returning to college to study. I have decided to go back and study, only to be met with people saying I was too old, even though I have two degrees. I want a change in a career that requires additional qualifications, and the only thing stopping me besides finances was the attitude of my peers. You are never too old, but the reality it is that it will be harder with less support, and fewer resources than the younger student, even though you may have more experience of life.

Perfectionism doesn’t matter. We may strive for perfection, but what is perfect? It means different things to each of us. The obsession does create standards, but how practical are they or realistic? I have learned that we can make perfect plans and be prepared for any hiccups along the way (that was my job as an event organizer), but few things in life are perfect, even if they seem like that on the surface. Relationships, families, jobs, and friendships can appear perfect, but perfection is transitory. Perfect moments exist, but then they fall into the okay and acceptable  phases. That’s normal, human, and realistic.

If you haven’t made by the age of 30 you’re a failure. This is a big myth—you don’t need to have proved yourself by the age of 30, although the numerous articles insist it is a benchmark, by creating unrealistic pressure; many use unorthodox methods to get there by believing in it. Lists of the Top 10 inventors under 30, entrepreneurs, etc., flood the internet and magazines. The truth is many of these who succeed early in life get burnt out and go broke by the time they hit their forties. I remember before I hit 30 thinking I needed to succeed and do all these things, but the truth is my birthday came and went, and no one cared. It changed nothing, and I realized it is better to go at your own pace than be inspired by an article that has no really meaning. It really doesn’t matter when you achieve things, and if it does matter to someone, I would question why—because it doesn’t prove anything. Success should be based on quality and personal achievements, and not on age. A friend was one of these listed on Forbes, and while he did achieve some great things, he then ended up drifting in and out of projects for years, clinging to that title and nothing more.

The grass is always greener. Sometimes the grass is fine as it is, but you want to see if it can get greener. It doesn’t always get greener, and when you learn that, you appreciate what you had, and learn that wanting more when you don’t need it is called greed. Reality shows and the media maybe partly to blame, but there is also youthful ambition that is willing to take a risk against practicality and what is sensible. I met someone who was offered a job that was paid well, offered security, but wasn’t exciting as a personal assistant. They asked if that was all they were capable of, and to be honest it was a good deal considering they had no work experience, qualifications, or references. The job would have created some financial security, but they rejected it as they felt the grass would be greener later. Maybe it will be, but sometimes the grass is greener than you already think. In relationships, people end them in search for greener pastures; some do find a greener pasture, and others learn that it’s a myth—a mistake to learn from and to live with.

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