The World doesn’t Owe You Anything

It’s funny how you always take your health for granted until you get sick. Thankfully, I almost never get sick, but when I do I feel like I’m dying.

It’s the same with tooth ache – all you want is it to stop, and you nostalgically think back to the days when you had no pain and realize you took it for granted.

With tooth ache, we probably find ourselves thinking “I should have gone to the dentist earlier, ugh, why did I postpone it?” And you’ll probably call your dentist to see if she can squeeze you in to her hectic schedule. And that’s probably what many of us have done during a tooth ache.

But for some reason, we don’t normally act that way when someone hurts our feelings, or there’s something we dislike about someone’s opinion. We usually go on complaining, saying how someone was unfair to me, and it’s not my fault.

Of course, sometimes we confront the person and solve the problem (or make it worse). But for some reason I’ve noticed it’s not happening the majority of the time.

problem solved

We often accuse our past and say “I can’t help it, I was raised this way”, or “If my mom would’ve done this some other way, things would be different”. I’ve heard people say this, a lot, and it makes me sick.

Yes, someone has hurt your feelings or done you wrong, but it’s YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to get your sh*t together and fix it. Nobody else can fix it but you. Don’t expect an apology, it’s not coming (or when it does, it won’t suddenly “fix” you).

Against the Odds

Most successful people know what struggle means, as becoming successful doesn’t happen overnight. They’ve often grown up poor and have struggled to make it since day 1.

Take for example Oprah, or Starbucks owner Howard Schultz – just to name two millionaires who grew up poor.

Contrary to popular opinion, struggling is good for you. And I’m not talking here about “struggling” with abusive parents or a drug addicted partner for example.

I’m talking about struggling to make ends meet, struggling to meet the expectations of someone important, and other struggles which eventually make you stronger. You’ll simply learn how to adapt and how to make the best out of your crappy situation.

I didn’t grow up in a rich family (I guess it’s safe to say we were average for Estonia, which is basically extremely poor in an American sense). But my mom never allowed me to whine about things, whether it was money, teachers at school or studying. And that’s what I’m grateful for the most.

I didn’t grow up with an “everything is their fault” mentality. Quite the opposite, it was always my fault (this method of raising a child could go wrong with certain personality types, I know that). I learned to take the blame, although often with resistance.

Lessons from my mom.

Yeah, it might have been unfair, but at least it prepared me for the rest of my life, where a lot of things have been unfair. Taking the blame taught me to never suffer in silence.

If it bothers you, get up and do something about it – it’s your responsibility to solve your problems. And I solved some problems by breaking the rules.

Breaking the Rules

I recently read this super interesting study which essentially states that if you break the rules and defy your parents in childhood, you’ll more likely have a higher income as an adult. Beyond IQ, education level and other socioeconomic factors, breaking the rules can give you an advantage in life.

Of course, the researchers didn’t mean general societal rules, but rather just being (a bit) mischievous in your youth. Like talking back to teachers or lying to your parents (both of which I admit that I’m very guilty of).

lisa simpson disobeying

Therefore, don’t force your kids to obey everything you say, and let them be kids. I’m not a parent so I’ll just stop here with parental advice. But I do think this study has a fair point.

Study Hard and You’ll Win in Life, They Said.

I’ve noticed that the most successful people in life aren’t the ones who studied hard, followed all the rules and got all A’s in school.

Getting A’s in school is about obedience, following the rules and studying hard. Sadly, these are not the skills which will guarantee you a top position in a company or lead you to take risks (like entrepreneurship, for example).

GPA doesn’t measure your emotional intelligence, or ability to solve complex problems, or your leadership ability. All these things are crucial in an individual’s success in life.

Your ability to collaborate with others, make compromises and the attitude you develop thanks to your struggles can never be put into a GPA. And that’s the reason why we shouldn’t force ourselves or our kids to be stellar students in the classroom.

I’ve noticed that the sneakier ones, who knew how to get things done with less effort (and often more efficiently) at school turn out to be in a better socioeconomic position later in life. These are just my observations of people from different generations, and I’m sure there are exceptions.

How Do You Deal with Your Struggles?

Hot-cold, light-dark, high-low – we’re so used to this kind of polarity. You and your struggles are not exempt from this rule.

How do you see your struggles? Are you only looking at them from your side? Or are you considering the other person’s view? If you’re not, I suggest you start doing it now. It’s especially useful to ask these questions when it comes to politics.

As soon as you look at everything with a fully informed view, you’ll see your mistakes. Or at least you’ll see where you’re misunderstood. It’s rarely someone else’s fault entirely.

Most of the times our egos get involved, and we just don’t want to admit that we were (at least partly) wrong as well. This leads me to my last post, where I explained how vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Just admit your bloody mistake and move on with life.

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I know it’s easier said than done. But admitting your mistakes along with asking yourself these hard questions will eventually make you understand that the world, or certain groups of people, or political parties, or your parents, (and the list goes on) don’t owe you anything.

If you don’t like something, then take responsibility and change it.

Practical Examples of How to Start Taking Responsibility and Owning Up To Your Stuff:

“I hate my job”

Quit it and find a new one. If you’re unable to do that right away, then start learning a new skill on the side, until you can change your situation. Find a side hustle, fill out quizzes for money online, do whatever it takes to quit.

“My parent(s) didn’t teach me about xyz”

Your parents can’t teach you everything. You need to learn it on your own. My top advice would be to start taking responsibility and act like an adult. And read a book on the topic you think your parents should’ve taught you.

In my case, I could be mad at my family for not talking to me about investing, but I’m not. I grabbed some books, took some courses and started studying and voila! I know quite a bit about it now. Problem solved.

 “I was bullied at school, and it’s holding me back from doing xyz…”

Too bad, I was too. Of course, it depends how bad it was, but if it still affects you then it must’ve been bad. Talk to a psychologist. Get some therapy, deal with the problem.

Yes, the bullies were bad, but it’s up to you whether you decide to handle the scars of bullying by hating the bullies for the rest of your life, or finding peace and moving on. I prefer the second option.

“I don’t know what to do with my life”

I was there a few years ago. Google is your best friend here. I googled the most random stuff ever, starting from “what to do with my life if I don’t know what to do” to “why would a Scorpio be a good detective and a doctor” (I took about 100 personality tests and they all told me I would make a good detective or a doctor – important to note: I almost faint when I see my nose bleed).

Look at different job offers, and their descriptions – maybe there’s something that catches your attention and you’re like “oh, I think I’d like this!” Then act on it.

Go all out, research the field, and it may lead you to a new thing. Take courses on Coursera, talk to your friends/relatives who seem to have an interesting job/life, ask for advice. Do anything to find out.

“This person/group offended me verbally and I’m hurt”

Don’t just post on Facebook how you’re offended, it’s lame and won’t change anything. Read the blog post above. And then read the heading again.

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