In America, we are constantly being told what is good for us, what we should do, and what we should want. Being a conscientious guy, I spent years trying to conform to what I thought I “should” be. It wasn’t until recently that I finally accepted the fact that I’m different, and it’s ok.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it’s never worth it to take some advice. There is good advice out there, if you can separate it from the junk and repetition. What I’m saying is don’t let other people tell you who you are and what you want to be. Personal identity and goals should be your decisions – that’s why they are personal. Everyone is unique because we each have different personalities, interests, culture, upbringing, education, friends, etc.
Suppose you love dogs and dream of being a “dog whisperer,” a person who helps straighten out troubled dogs. Your parents throw up their hands, and your friends all laugh. Of course you should research how many whisperers are out there, where they train, and what the job prospects are like – that is all good planning. But you shouldn’t give up your dream just because there are only a handful in the entire US and no real formal training. These things shouldn’t control your decision. YOU control your decision; these things are merely factors to consider. Never let people tell you what you can and can’t do.
America is a paradox. On one hand, we celebrate individualism because it embodies the “American Spirit,” but on the other hand, we have constructed a Corporate Machine that strongly encourages conformity. Perhaps the real reason we admire successful individuals is because they are relatively rare. There is no point in bemoaning this fact; the Machine was built this way to satisfy the needs and desires of the 90%. It channels people into jobs that help it run smoothly, but if you belong to the 10% with different goals, you are on your own. In order to succeed, you must be strong and develop your own techniques for success. The good thing about America is that if you do your job well, you have a decent shot at carving out a niche. In case you were wondering, there is such a thing as a dog whisperer, and he even has his own TV show.