In my opinion, one practical thing I believe young people can do to power their growth isn’t considered practical at all by most people:
Move out of your parents home as soon as possible.
If practicality is defined as “enjoying as much comfort and security as possible with the resources spent” then this isn’t practical. But if we define practicality as “enjoying as much BENFIT as possible with the resources spent” then this is very practical. Growth is a benefit better than comfort. Independence and strength will secure you more than your childhood bedroom. Learning how to navigate daily life wisely and gaining confidence with your decisions is worth more than the short-term savings.
Getting out of childhood bubbles, childhood comforts, attitudes, securities, and concerns, puts us in a better place to develop the two things I believe we should seek: character (the quality of the kind of person you are) and capability (having the skills, know-how, and strength to do necessary tasks).
In my experience this has been one of the best decisions of my life, and it has also led to a much less comfortable standard of living. My parents provided a great environment to live and I’m glad I was given a standard to aim for but paying my own bills, scrambling to avoid foreclosure, getting my water cut off, having no food to eat, sleeping on the floor, not having a car, trying to make ends meet, failing, trying again, trying to do the right thing, failing, trying again, trying to remain faithful, failing, trying again, trying to be wise, failing, trying again, trying to be loving and kind and wise and everything a man is supposed to be, while also being responsible to pay for my own life, to find a way to afford the life I want or reduce the things I want, these are experiences that have taught me a few things. Mainly these three:
1. There is a cost to everything. – I was shielded from the cost by my parents, so no matter how much I knew this intellectually, the fact that I didn’t have to pay for most things shielded me from the full extent of this lesson. When you’re on your own, you don’t eat if you can’t afford the cost, you don’t go to certain places, or do certain things if you can’t afford it. So you now work for it and you learn to prioritize what to spend your time, money, and energy on.
2. Be grateful for the people who pay costs for you no matter how imperfect. – I see so many people being highly critical of their parents or grandparents or of different people who actually make their life possible. It is extreme pride to not acknowledge that the person who feeds you, puts a roof over your head, or gives you an opportunity doesn’t care or understand. It’s extreme selfishness to resent people who make your life possible yet continue to live off their goodness. If you really can’t stand them, if you really think they’re unwise, or mean, or don’t understand, don’t put up with it – but don’t have them pay for your costs too – that’s hypocritical. Besides, if you really know better than them, then you should be able to pay for your own life, because you believe you know better than the people who managed to pay the cost for your life and their own.
3. It’s ok to struggle for your dreams, but you struggle for it, don’t expect others to. – It’s ok to have a hard time, you’ll get stronger. It’s ok to be uncomfortable, you’ll be more adaptable. It’s ok to have nothing at the moment, you’ll live simpler. It’s ok to be embarrassed, you’ll learn your lesson. It’s ok to try and fail, at the very least you’ll know what Not to try next time. It’s ok to let others down, just be sure to get back up and take them up with you. Success doesn’t come from simply avoiding mistakes. It comes with pursuing whatever it takes, which may include minimizing mistakes, or the painful process of rising above consequences, whatever it is, it includes learning and grit.
When I was younger I had so many high-minded opinions of the way life should be and how people should behave. I realize now that I had the luxury of being high-minded. I held my head high because others held theirs low as they plowed the earth that would bring me food so to speak. It was prideful because even as I argued my thoughts I failed to see that the very people I was trying to defeat were the ones most concerned for my success.
I could be critical because I didn’t have to pay the daily time, money, and energy costs of having a place to stay, food to eat, electricity, and other basics. In other words, I was literally free to be a critic. This is also why I was a very bad critic because I know now that I was a free-loading critic. Talk about having no credibility.
Understanding the cost, being grateful for the people who pay the cost, removes the pride of high-mindedness and replaces it with gratitude. And accepting the challenge of struggle puts us in a place to go back and work for our high-minded dreams, but this time paying for them ourselves, because, again, if we really know better, if we really are smarter or wiser, then we should be able to make that better life for ourselves, and besides, they are our dreams after all.