On this blog, we talk a lot about growing up, dealing with the constantly changing world, breaking stereotypes, and the 90s. The whole reason Tommy and I started this experiment that we call The Millennial Man was to open up a dialogue about what it means to be a man or woman in contemporary society. It can often be confusing, scary, and flat out difficult to discover who the hell you are as the world continues to spin round and round.
A few weeks ago, Tommy talked about how we each have roles in life, akin to the roles players have on sports teams. His point was that not everyone can be Michael Jordan. He championed a great message: It’s important to improve and become a better version of you from yesterday.
I agree with that school of thought. However, this is a classic case of easier-said-than-done, because too often there are factors that chip away at us focusing on who we are and what we truly want. Every day, millions of people show up to work for a job they hate, deal with difficult personal relationships, worry about fitting in, and battle a laundry list of inner demons. Sometimes, it’s not easy sorting that all out. It can become easier to accept the version of yourself the world presents to you than the version of yourself that makes you the happiest.
Drew Magary, one of my favorite Deadspin contributors, wrote an excellent post on bullying in the wake of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin debacle. In the article, Magary talks about how he used to be a social climber growing up, and how he let the influence of insecure bullies shape the way he acted. It’s a very honest, informative piece that reminded me that it’s important to continue to find yourself and remember everyone is doing the same.
Again, this is easier said than done. We live in a culture where Facebook statuses change every minute, new Tweets are created every second, and millions of people feel the need to bash a viewpoint that is different than theirs in the comments section of YouTube video. How can we be us with so much noise drowning out that one voice in our head that we feel so comfortable conversing with?
One way to do that is to say, “Fuck It. I’m going to do me.” Try it. It feels really good.
I’m just as guilty as the next person for worrying about what my peers will think if I want something different than they do. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that true friends are the kind of people who understand if something you want is different than what they want. They take the time to understand your endgame. And you have to do the same for the people you really care about.
It’s funny how being in your mid-20s can feel as uncomfortable as your first day in junior high sometimes. Don’t let it. Last week, a wise man told me that your mid- to late-20s are a time when you’re supposed to learn how to live well. What’s exciting about learning how to live well is that it gives us a unique opportunity to reinvent ourselves in a really cool way. I’m not suggesting that you become a new person altogether, rather that you make a new life goals chart and figure out the most feasible way to attain those goals.
A couple of Fridays ago, I wrote about the importance of dancing like no one is watching. That’s how I would suggest attacking this new part of your life, peeps. At the end of the day, you can pretend to be someone else, but you’ll only have yourself to answer to. Drown out all the noise. Listen to that voice inside your head or heart – sorry for getting corny – and see how you can do you. You’ll be better off for it. And so will the rest of us.