2 min read

The folly of the formative years

40 for 40 #11-20

(A quick reminder that we’re doing something a little different this month)

You can make friends in any circumstance if you want to.

There are circumstances in which you will naturally connect with people, but sometimes you need to be willing to create the circumstance and the context for some form of shared interest. Real talk: I support Arsenal because when I first lived in East Africa, I knew that I would be able to easily strike up conversations with a lot of people if I had a Premier League team that I supported. If I had wanted to make a lot more friends, I would have supported United.

Define family expansively.

Be willing to say, "I am going to let this random person into my life. They can walk into my house and raid my fridge. I will babysit their kids if they need it. We will be together for the holidays." Those people aren't always your blood family or even your closest and dearest friends. They may not be in your life forever. The people you survive hard times and big transitions with aren't necessarily who you choose or who you'd suspect, but there's a unique bond there.

Keep an eye out for the opportunities to push all the chips into the middle of the table.

These don't come along all that often - I can only think of 4 or 5 of them in my whole life - but I have found immense satisfaction in being able to pursue something wholeheartedly, even when it doesn't always work out.

When you’re in your twenties, try and live on as little as possible.

This creates a lot of freedom later in life, because you know you can flourish without huge material needs. It also helps you learn to value relationships over things.

When you travel, anticipate stepping out of your cultural comfort zone and holding off on making value judgments.

By the way, though, this doesn't really lead to a deep and profound understanding of "the other." I know that's often what I've hoped for, but if it provides any deeper understanding it's an understanding of the self and how narrow my own perspective is and will forever be.

Your twenties are a hot mess that you wouldn't trade for the world and you would never want to go through again.

I'm not sure there's a whole lot more to say about that.

Trying to understand why someone did something wrong or unjust doesn't mean you have to excuse them or absolve them of responsibility, but it does help you to humanize rather than demonize.

This is especially hard and especially critical, though, when the wrong was perpetrated against you

Boredom is underrated.

In the absence of external stimulus, your mind goes to unexpected places, makes observations, and unearths insights about the world. Also, sometimes it just does nothing. There is a lot of pleasure to be found in recognizing the presence of boredom and being comfortable with it and willing to ask the question, "but what is happening around me right now that's interesting?"

If you’re working more than 50 hours a week, it’s either for survival or for a cause that you really care about.

More hours often just equals diminished hours.

No matter how confident you are, always be willing to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong.

Not only does it expose you to more perspectives, it also encourages people around you to engage more openly.