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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When you think of the word "beige", what comes to mind?
Within the world of automotive enthusiasts, the word in question is used to describe ordinary cars which are designed primarily for function and not much else.  Overall, the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry are considered the most beige vehicles in America by most of the enthusiast world.  These cars get you where your need to go, are dead reliable, and pretty comfortable but offer nothing else of much value other than an ever increasing sticker price.  These two cars are built in such a mundane way, but can people like you and I also be "beige"?

It has been ten years since I graduated from high school and in that time I have employed high school students during my early to mid-twenties, watched them go through college, and have also been somewhat connected to a few high schoolers in recent time as well.  One thing I have found that doesn't ever appear to change though?  The direction or lack of direction I see in the large majority of these young people.

Two weeks ago, a client made mention that she was worried for her teenage son who had a few years left in high school.  After hearing about the difficulties of employment in the current job market and how nobody seems to be using their college degrees anymore, she is leery about the direction he is going to go in life.  Either parents front the money for higher education or the student graduates with mortgage-sized debt all for holding a degree which has nothing to do with the job they will ultimately accept in most cases.  Yet getting a job interview without a degree is nearly impossible.  This is a huge risk for the future in any regard and an even bigger catch-22 for continuing generations.

Going back to what I said about high school never changing is something which came about because we are now in the time of year when high school seniors are hearing back from universities and colleges about their potential acceptance.  The high school kids want to be the college kids.  They want to get away from home, have the freedom of being all to themselves and finally figure out what they are going to do with their lives.  The college students are either wanting to stay in that world of semi-dependency as long as possible or longing to get started in that big career they have been working so hard for while obtaining that coveted degree. Some are fortunate enough to have some sort of entrance into the professional working world, but most in recent history are taking jobs in entirely different fields because that is all they can actually find.  This is a more common happening as years go by.  
"But I was supposed to go to college.  That's what you do."  Trust me, I get it.  I did the same thing.

Do you see the cycle?
We were told to take electives in high school because it would help us figure out what we should be doing for the rest of our lives.  After that, we were told to go to college because those four years would shape us into who we were set out to be.  After that?  Most of the young adults in this country still haven't the slightest clue about what they want to do with the rest of their lives - myself included for quite a while.  So, they settle into being beige.

When I lost my first big, money-making job back in 2011, I would go on interviews with companies and tell them that I would work my hardest but didn't require much out of life and wasn't chasing a paycheck.  I told them that being comfortable was just fine with me and as long as I could afford a place to live and basic necessities of life, I would be happy.  I am very thankful I didn't get any of those jobs because I no longer think that way anymore - but I'm still not chasing a paycheck.

The problem is that we were never really convinced by anyone to find ourselves or figure out who we really are.  We spent all of this time "exploring", studying, and building so-called "relationships" to be nothing other than beige.  The years we should have spent actually trying to find ourselves were muddled with other crap and all sorts or drama which makes no difference in our own lives besides adding supplemental stress to our growth.  We were taught that everything is complicated and everything has a certain pecking order or requirement for personal arrival.

None of this - none of it is true.

The past few years after my layoff have been rough for me because in the years leading up to that I was trying too hard to be "beige".  Everyone went out on the weekends, so I did.  Everyone drank too much, so I did.  Everyone had a big social agenda, so I did.  Everyone did the same exact thing in the same exact routine, so I did.  It was a horrible existence and I was blinded to think I was happy in it all.  The truth is that I was just too focused on being beige and being average and I didn't even notice it.  Anyone can get drunk and anyone can "hang out", but I eventually had to figure out that the only person who was able to create my own future and improve my own ideas was me.

I don't have it figured out yet and I am not entirely sure of what I need to be doing for the rest of my life.  Nothing about me is financially stable right now but part of growing is continual investment in yourself and your ideas.  If you had told me a year ago that the first real article I ever wrote would end up on the front page of the biggest car enthusiast blog in the world, I would have called you crazy.  If you had told me that everything I had written within a year's time would pass 300,000 total reads, I would think exactly the same thing.  If you had told me that I would be pursuing building my own line and brand of furniture while spending hours pulling nails out of old wooden planks to try to make a business for myself: Yeah, I would have thought you were insane.  It's called growth.

Am I successful?  Heck no.  I haven't even scratched the surface of what I am doing and could likely fail at any moment.  The reality of it is, however, that I wouldn't be here without the journey I chose to embark on, surrounded by a plethora of other incredible people.  I am not financially stable, I am not successful at the moment, but what I am is growing and refusing to stop until I either fail or succeed but knowing I have tried my hardest to never slow in my journey of figuring all of this out.

The other day, a friend of mine who runs a restaurant said:
"Drew comes in here and says:  'Today I ran five miles, built a table, wrote three blogs and now I'm going home to write more.'  All I have done today was got out bed, showered, and came here."
I didn't share that to brag at all, but her saying something like that in front of me and other people around me made me want to push even more in figuring out who I am.  Determination is more than half the battle and surrounding yourself with people who vocally share their admiration and support isn't far off the level of importance either.

Life isn't all that complicated but we make it that way because we are told to do things in a certain way and to follow a certain method.  Nobody ever accomplished anything by sitting around and not actively searching for their role and purpose in life.  Next year, I may not be building furniture or writing anymore, but I am happy to say that if I am still alive, I will still be in pursuit of something - because I owe myself that much.

Finding yourself is a continual and devoted process.
When you stop learning, you stop growing.
When you stop moving, your life is being wasted.

I hope I never find myself, because then I will have nothing left to chase.
I never want to be "beige" ever again.
Keep up the journey or get left behind.

Grace and Peace,



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