I've been called a lot of things over the course of my 21 years on planet earth: some good, a lot bad, some right, many wrong. Sometimes it's hard not to let words affect you. Sticks and stones may break your bones, and you know something? Words might, too, but don't let them.
In your 20s, getting an earful from your parents, coworkers, professors, whoever, is certainly inevitable. The trick isn't to ignore them, but to hear them and move forward. Setbacks will break your bones just as easily as any stick or stone.
As long as you, yourself, stay positive, you'll continue moving forward. Understand, when someone points out your flaws, you can either sit and pout, or grow from the unwarranted criticism.
Here are the 10 flaws you've likely been called out on in your 20s, and how those very same flaws may help your success:
"I told them, 'To hell with it. If I'm not going to Columbia University, I'm going to Columbia Records, and you don't need a high school diploma over there.'"
Quoted is Billy Joel's take on foregoing summer school to pursue a career in music. Yeah, sounds pretty arrogant, huh? I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted it to sound any other way. The thing is, Billy Joel justified his arrogance. He signed to Columbia Records in '72. Ultimately, arrogance is simply confidence, which other people don't buy into… at least, not yet.
Had Billy Joel made that aforementioned statement with a few platinum records to his name, he would simply be speaking confidently, as opposed to him saying it in between shifts at the local piano bar (where he played to help his mom pay the bills). Be arrogant, while you're still young. Just make sure you, too, justify that arrogance. It'll give you that inner-edge, that competitive swag.
A lot of the advice you'll hear when you're young contradicts itself. Some days, you'll be told not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Other days, you'll hear, "Patience is a virtue." So which is it? Well, I, for one, am not going to sit around and wonder.
Be impatient. I've never heard of anyone being penalized for doing something too early; hell, it's better than being late. Just because you have time doesn't mean you need to spend it waiting. You're young; if you jump into something too fast and fall on your face, it's fine -- you have time to recover. That's the beauty of not waiting.
The bottom line is, everyone's different. Everyone has different times for ripeness; everyone has different expiration dates. But you'll never know, for yourself, until you try to reap the harvest on your own time.
If someone tells you "no" 100 times, tell them "yes" 101 times. Of course this policy shouldn't translate to the bar scene at your local college… but you get what I'm saying. Being stubborn isn't always a bad thing; in fact, in my mind, it's a good thing. Without stubbornness, no one would ever learn how to ride a bike, or swim, or do anything that requires "trying again." If you want to do something, and somebody tells you that you can't, he or she may be right. This doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying. In a world in which everyone loves telling others "no," only the most stubborn will survive.
There are times to be careful; there are times to be careless. When you're in your 20s, trying to juggle school, work, side-work and your fantasy basketball team, all at once, it's hard not to be a bit careless. Just make sure your carelessness is a result of your being overly ambitious. It's okay to be a bit sloppy, especially when you're young. Having said that, make sure you have your priorities in line.
My room is a pigsty, and I can't keep track of my keys after putting them in my pocket just a few moments prior (at least I think I put them in my pocket), but, at the same time, one thing you should never lose track of is where you want to end up.
Be conceited. Think you're the best. Why wouldn't you? In the working world, your future boss is going to hire the "best person for the job." You'll need to think you're the best, before you can ever expect someone else to. Confidence is one of the most attractive human qualities around, and conceit is nothing more than excessive confidence. Last time I checked, you can never have too much of a good thing. Wake up telling yourself you're the best, feel the best and do your best. It's all connected. Don't just talk about it; be about it.
This may be true, but this also might be the key to your future success. I'm sitting here right now, tapping away at my MacBook, writing this very article before you. If I listened to all those high school teachers who told me, "[You] don't write the correct way" and routinely threw C's on my essays, I doubt I'd be here right now. I would've given up on writing and, I don't know, picked up a new hobby.
I was ignorant then, thankfully, and never gave up on the whole writing thing. Be ignorant about your aspirations. Remember the old adage: "There's more than one way to skin a cat." I've never skinned a cat before, but if you've got a passion, don't always listen to the textbook. Being young and ignorant is a beautiful thing. Ignore limitations and focus on your goals.
You're Too Aggressive
When it really is time for you to pump the breaks, you'll know. Until then, push the pedal. There's no such thing as being too aggressive; if anything, others are just too passive. Until you're fat, rich and have a beautiful woman feeding you grapes (and another one fanning you down), be aggressive.
It'll only pay dividends at the end of the day, when you rest your keppe. Don't be afraid that your aggression is too "obnoxious." If the people you're doing business with can't handle your aggression, look for someone who embraces it. There's nothing worse than surrounding yourself with people who don't motivate you to go above and beyond.
Without obsession, life is nothing. If your specific craft and your obsession are not synonymous, find a new craft or obsession, until they coincide. Not only are obsessions "not a bad thing"; they're a great thing, at that. Find me one successful person who isn't obsessed with what he or she does, subjectively. You think Michael Jordan wasn't obsessed with basketball?
You think any award-winning actor didn't obsess over the role he or she portrayed? Obsession is the ultimate form of interest. It's an accumulation of passion, desire and love -- all packaged into one. Feed your obsession, until you're finally satisfied with what you have in front of you. Then go find a new obsession.
All right, there are a hell of a lot worse qualities you can have than to be impulsive. Don't fret. Be impulsive. Your younger years are reserved for your impulses; act on them. For most of your early existence, you might have wanted to be an astronaut.
By the time you turned 18, you may have said, "Hey, space isn't for me," and in turn, you decided to pursue a career in law. After your first two years of college, you may decide law isn't for you, and medicine is… I don't know. The moral of the story is, it doesn't really matter.
Odds are, if you get an impulse to do something, there's usually a reason for it. When you're 40, with kids to support and a house to pay for, maybe consider curbing your impulsiveness. Until then, especially while you're in your 20s (and likely have no f*cking clue what your true calling is), there's no harm in "playing the field" with regard to your life decisions. Jump around until you don't have the urge to jump anymore.
This quality is my favorite. If someone tells you you're young and stupid, respond, "Thank you," and keep your middle finger up somewhere he or she can't see (I recommend somewhere inside your jacket pocket). Honestly, your youthful stupidity may be your greatest asset along the path to success. Don't get it twisted. Be smart about the things you've been trained to be smart about: school, work, family, etc. At the same time, with regard to chasing your dreams, sometimes you need to be stupid.
Sometimes, your goals may not be realistic, they may sound stupid, which doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't try to achieve them. The fact of the matter is, nobody knows you better than yourself. If you think you're capable of doing something, you can't be that stupid, considering you've known both your capabilities and limitations since the time you sauntered out of your mother's womb.
Just because other people think something's stupid doesn't mean that's the law of the land. Albert Einstein was told he was stupid in school. He just thought a little differently. Now, we learn his way of thinking in our schools. Told ya, stupidity ain't so bad.
Photo credit: Blank Check