Monday, March 22, 2010

A Guide to Acquiring Success/Becoming Successful from a 22-Year-Old Who Isn't Really Successful (Yet)

For the last four years or so I’ve been pretty preoccupied with success. I’ve been trying to figure out just what constitutes success, what different kinds there are and what types used to be and now are important to me--professional, commercial, personal, etc. I’ve been almost paralyzed with this sort of fear that I’ll never achieve the kinds of success I’ve decided to pursue, and I’ve lost countless hours of sleep trying to figure out ways I can prevent this failure. Some of those hours have been spent watching stuff; some have been spent reading things; some have been spent speaking with some of the people I hold dear and in the highest esteem as well as people I hope to never ever end up like; most have been spent thinking to myself, trying to plot out an ideal future (which is impossible to do by laying in bed and thinking) and frame my own definition of success and how to achieve it. This has proven to be pretty much impossible, because there are so many facets to becoming successful in the ideal way people wish for, and realizing that was probably the first step I took towards being content with the success I may someday find. Now that I’m uncomfortably close to transitioning from college kid to real adult, I’ve decided it’s a good idea to at least get some of my thoughts together and cohesive, so I can at least be happy.

For some reason, I’ve decided to share them with you.


        Everything has got to start with confidence. I can’t stress how important being confident is for basically every facet of life. If you feel like you’re a piece of shit, then other people are going to treat you that way, whether it’s your boss, girlfriend or some douche bag that wants to get your goat. If you want to be good at something, there’s a certain amount of other factors involved, but without a certain degree of confidence you won’t be able to reach your full potential, no matter how high your prowess or skill level.
        Throughout my short life I’ve seen a great many guys date girls that are extremely far out of their league. More often than not, this was due to the guy’s confidence level. He was confident enough with himself to show the girl who he really was, and to do the things he liked to do, and inadvertently impressed the shit out of all of his friends (and even other guys that weren’t even close to being his friend, because they resented him for his success with women that they couldn’t understand).
        Make eye contact. Eyes are so rarely ugly, and if they are people probably won’t tell you. People like to look eye-to-eye because you can tell so much about how a person is feeling by the way they look at you. This is unavoidable. Find a way how to master making eye contact without staring, though. Because staring can be creepy. The same thing goes with smiling. If you’re smile’s ugly and you’re older than 13 people probably won’t tell you, and will appreciate you smiling at them regardless. If you’re smile’s that bad, use some confidence to get a better paying job, get Invisalign for a few months, and smile your heart out. As long as you’re not doing it to the point where you resemble the Joker, because that is also creepy.
        Everybody has flaws. Do not complain about these flaws, because complaining to someone about being fat, having an ugly smile, a man rack or anything else will not make them go away. It’s a lot better to accentuate your good traits than to draw attention the bad ones, and people will get annoyed as shit with you if you keep calling yourself fat. And if you are fat, go to the gym. If you’re fat because you have terrible genes, find something to divert people from your weight (which is easier said than done, I’m sure). When was the last time you heard somebody make fun of Zach Galifianakis for being overweight? Being self-conscious has rarely helped anybody with anything.
        Communicate, because speaking and sharing things with other people is easily one of the most important things in life. Without communicating, people really begin to misunderstand each other. They still do when they’re communicating, but at least then they can understand why, and have a discussion about it. I don’t think I’ve ever spent someone who has spent their life almost completely in solitude that has felt successful and happy. I’ve never met any of these people, since they don’t communicate with the outside world, but I’ve read about them.
        Find a friend or group of friends you can share your life with, and never let them go (this includes family, because the members of my family are some of my best friends, obviously). These are the people that will make you feel better when things aren’t going well, and they’ll supplement the amount of fun in your life to an extent that I don’t think most can comprehend. Never take advantage of these people or do wrong to them, because at the end of the day there isn’t one person in this world that knows for sure if there is a god or an afterlife, but nobody can deny that friends are real and important. Unless you’re a really big douchebag.
        Stay in step with technology. This never used to be such an important thing, but if you don’t do it the world could leave you behind. There’s a good chance that, if you’re my age, your friends and family are or are about to be in places all over the world. We have the Internet and other methods that help people stay in touch, so you’d be stupid not to. This will also help you with most occupations. Some companies really get excited when you know how to use Microsoft Excel or Skype. Technology also allows people to stay connected with current events and popular culture, which make it so much easier to communicate with others. You’ll always have something to talk about, especially since Lady Gaga wears something stupid pretty much everyday of the week.
        Don’t be too afraid to dance. Chances are you’re going to look like an idiot, but chances are nobody around you truly gives a fuck. In fact, if you’re not a public figure, most people don’t care what you do at all. Sometimes it’s alright to just go for it. It might pay off in an unforseen way, too. I’ve actually seen my friends win women over with their terrible dance moves, which is probably better than winning them over with free beer at the Kappa Felt A Thigh house.
        Learn to recover from heartbreak and loss, and if you can do so quickly and without permanent damage, find some way to teach others how to do the same. Whenever you do get your heart broken--which will certainly happen to almost everybody at at least one time or another--think about the people that haven’t felt anything like that. This gives them nothing to compare love to, which may actually dull the sensation of true love, or make it unrecognizable. Feel free to go on your requisite bender and to embrace the bitterness left in your heart for a while, but try your best not to let it consume you. If it does, though, which often happens, get something from it. Do something you normally wouldn’t or couldn’t, just because you’ve got back time to yourself that wasn’t originally there. Go on a trip, whether it’s camping with your friends or to the strip club down the Interstate. There’s nothing that the road cannot heal, and it’s important to be able to know and embrace both elation and depression.
        Be chivalrous. So few guys are anymore, and it’s a very important thing. Open the doors for women, give up your seat for them on the bus, pay for their dinner at least every once in a while. Bring them little meaningful gifts for no real reason. Write them love letters, or at least tell them just how much they mean to you. Also, attempt to make them laugh. Women seem to really like it when guys make them laugh. (This ties into the guys who’ve dated out of their league that I know. They are all able to make their girlfriends--and other people’s girlfriends--laugh incessantly.)
        Just because you’re chivalrous, though, don’t be afraid to fight with women (not physically, please, because that usually doesn’t work out). Don’t let them walk all over you, or take advantage of you. They can be wily creatures, and to be truly successful you cannot allow them to completely run your life. Once someone becomes your sincere everything, you’ve got nothing else. (An example: This sort of happened to me a couple of years ago. I was so absorbed with this one woman that I completely disregarded my own self. There are many events and emotions I could site, but I’ll stick to one: While with her, I lost 12 pounds within about a month, and didn’t even notice. If that happened to me now, I would probably throw a party.)
        Actually, don’t be afraid to fight with anybody. It’s extremely difficult to be successful if anybody is walking all over you.
        Think for yourself, question authority and gather knowledge that will serve to help you form your own opinions. Don’t be a Republican or a Catholic or a crack dealer just because your Dad is. If you educate yourself on the pros and cons of being any of those and still think it’d be a good decision, then go ahead and go for it, I sure as hell won’t stop you (but if you choose to be a crack dealer the DEA might).
        Argue very fervently with people you disagree with, but don’t disparage or persecute the beliefs of others. It’s always important to remember that there’s that constant chance that neither of you is really right. But still always try and win. Just win cleanly. Don’t try and convince someone that purchasing a houseboat would be a good idea by telling them they have a big nose. (Also, it turns out that this really might not be a good investment, but that depends on a great deal of things you can look up on your own if you’re considering buying a houseboat.) Base your arguments around being optimistic, pessimistic and realistic. All three are important and are appropriate for different things at different points in your life. Chances are, you’ll fuck up and be the wrong one at the wrong time more often than not, but that just keeps the arguments going and allows you to learn a little bit more, or at least to gather some things to consider.
        Don’t be afraid to fight, argue or disrespect people who are older than you when it’s warranted. The notion that people should respect their elders simply because they’re older than whoever is supposed to be respecting them is one of the dumbest fucking things I have ever heard. You don’t need to respect someone or let them take advantage of you simply because they’ve been on the earth longer than you, because they had nothing to do with that. You had absolutely no control over when your parents decided to have sex. Remember that.
        Exercise, get up early, eat right, stay clean, dress well. Put “sometimes” after each one of those things I just wrote.
        Become your own commodity. Make yourself, as an individual, someone that is valuable to many people, whether it’s at work or in a social or familial sense. Make it so that if people can still live without you (which, let’s be honest, pretty much everybody probably could), they don’t want to live without you.
        Put yourself in the position to be considered an expert on something. It doesn’t matter if it’s on books, TV shows and movies, zebras, Judaism or cool videos of goats on YouTube. It will make anyone feel good to be questioned on how to do something, or where to find something (unless it’s how to cheat on your wife or where to find lime to stop the stench coming from the closet where you’ve put all those deceased hookers).
        Digest everything. Read books (they really do make you smart, or at least seem smarter than you really are, believe me), watch lots of TV shows and movies, learn about zebras and spend time in the outdoors, educate yourself on Judaism and laugh really hard at some YouTube videos. These are all ways to gather the knowledge that you don’t really find in most educational environments (unless you’re a journalism major like me, we are subjected to some really stupid shit that we’d be better off looking into at home and not paying for).
        Don’t use the word “like” more often than you have to. It makes you sound similar to a valley girl. You don’t want to be like that. Ah, shit.
        Learn to spell the word “definitely” correctly.
        Give a fuck about things, but only to a certain point. You don’t want to be a tight ass, because it’s so much more difficult to have fun then. Remember that there’s a time and place to take things seriously, and that it’s a lot less often than most people think.
        Shout really, really loud sometimes. Scream even. For some reason this is good for you, and it makes you feel better about things. Just make sure you’re doing it out of earshot of people who may worry or be frightened or both.
        It’s okay to have habits, but don’t allow them to be stronger than you. If you’re doing something you don’t think you could quit doing if you absolutely had to, you should probably reevaluate some things.
        Do something at the end of every single day that you can look forward to throughout the day. I don’t care what it is. (Unless it’s something really bad, then I don’t want to tell you to do that. Like choking yourself during manual stimulation or anything like that. Joining a fight club is certainly acceptable, though.)
        Keep your own story moving, and keep it entertaining. Have the initiative to do this. No life is completely boring if you don’t allow it to be.
        Sit outside by yourself in a beautiful place at least once or twice a year and just think about things. Ideally, you should do this on a starry night at a place you really enjoy going to be alone. I personally like to go to a park where there’s a really nice lake and a dock I can walk out and sit on. A girl took me there once when we were really young and showed it to me. She’s now a woman, and is probably closer to finding success than I am, so she knows things.
        Don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry sometimes. It’s a lot like dancing. People don’t think less of you if you do it, even if you don’t look particularly good while doing it.
        Help people who are less fortunate than you, and stick up for people who can’t stick up for themselves. Do this simply to do it, and not for any other motivation. Doing the right thing can go a long way.
        Use “sir” and “ma’am” every once in a while. If you do, it’s pretty common for someone to tell you not to, because it makes them feel old (commonly women). If/when this happens, say “Oh, I didn’t know 25 was old.” Crisis averted.
        Make a routine that you follow, and then break the shit out of it sometimes.
        Compliment people. Tell them they have pretty eyes.
        Travel a lot if you can.
        Cheat on your taxes. Sticking it to the man gives a person the largest feeling of success possible.
        And please, no matter what you do: Don’t hang out in the fucking fast lane unless you’re passing someone and there’s nobody directly behind you.
        And try to be happy.