Soni J. has a message for young men, “Be all the teenager you can be; it’s all relevant!”
Recognize that nothing is a waste! Of time nor energy! It is all relevant to your future whether you are aware of it now or not. How you spend your time and where you put your energy as an adolescent all goes into play to how you will live your life as an adult. Sounds so obvious, I know. At your age, I too knew it all!
I used to read a lot, but my attention span would never allow me to finish a whole book unless it was captivating from the very first chapter and straight through to the very last page. I could, however, get lost in a sea of articles found in magazines and loved reading comic books while I studied the pictures admiringly. Hence, I was never cool enough for a book club but too dorky for the cool guys. So I protected it like my little secret.
In school, my attention span took me in and out of saxophone lessons, the spelling bee club, a math club, a science club, basketball, drawing, writing … I was always involved in something extracurricular. Although I struggled to pay attention in class, I learned how to ace every teacher’s tests and was an Honor Roll kid. Regrettably, this does not mean I knew the material inside and out. It means I learned each of their teaching styles and used this ability to ace their tests.
At some point, I discovered I enjoyed watching sports more than actually playing them. I had a particular fascination with the annual Superbowl, but not because I loved football. No one knew I hardly even understood the game at all. My obsession was with the quality of the commercials in between! Much later in life I realized I do not enjoy television shows as much as I enjoy watching the commercials. I only regret the discovery came so late in my life. This led to a final career move (of many!) in my mid 30’s to video production where I can integrate my love for smaller projects, my writing skills to generate scripts and my creativity (otherwise called “short attention span” or “A.D.D.” in some cases) which can run wild to my delight.
As an adolescent, I was always anxious to do more, get ahead, move on to the next step. If I had been patient with myself, I would have developed one or two hobbies and really mastered them. As it stands, I am what they call a “jack of all trades.” Yes, that phrase which is usually followed by the humbling “master of none.” At my age (almost 40) I should otherwise be well on my way to being invincible and wise. I am working on it, but now feel like I have only mastered the ability to fall into place as necessary. The Master Jack? None of “it” was in vain … but all of it has proven relevant!
I was a first-generation kid born to an immigrated Mexican family in a small mountain town of Colorado. Since I was the first in my extended family to further my education, I had no real guidance when I went off to college. It was actually just an adventure to embark on and get me out of my small town digs. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” was a question that made me squirm in my skin.
Be flexible. The best things that have happened in my life happened because I had nothing else planned to obstruct the universe from unfolding opportunities for me to jump on. I finally stopped making concrete plans for my future and focused more on smaller and simpler goals like being happy and traveling more. During college, I quickly learned that financial responsibility allowed for spontaneous travel, where I met wonderful lifelong friends and had everlasting experiences. As a result, all of my relationships––friendly, professional and romantic—kept getting more and more amazing, because as I said before, it is all relevant.
When something doesn’t work out, take the time to pay attention. It could be the universe attempting an intervention in the only voice it can use to redirect you. Revert to a flexible position and allow yourself to be open. You’ll be glad for it and much less stressed. I regret wasting the time and energy that all that stress sucked out of me. Do not fear change for it can be a wonderful breath of fresh air just when life starts to choke you.