Man…my 20’s were…something else.  I laughed. I cried.  I made mistakes.  I accomplished a bit.  Made some more mistakes.  Learned some lessons. 

I guess you can say I lived.

20’s truly are an amazing era.  It’s a time of beautiful and chaotic potential.  Endless nights that seep into morning suns and 10 hour work shifts.

There’s college. Friends. Parties. Work. Family. Dreams. Trips. Hopes. Ambitions. Workouts. Due dates.   

The trick is to find a balance in all these things.  And hopefully have a little fun along the way.

The reality is that I’m not a great (and probably not even good) example of what an individual should do to truly be exceedingly productive in their life.  But luckily I’ve had (and continue to see) numerous models in my life to aspire to. 

And hopefully my lessons can help you, if only a little, as you travel along this road that is life.  Through the tantalizing uncertainty that is your 20’s.

Brenda – Focus

As I get older, I find myself in awe when in the presence of younger individuals who are traveling the path with focused and determined sensibilities.  Brenda just happens to be one such individual. 

Having worked with her over the past couple of years, I’ve truly been amazed by her ability to handle work, school, volunteering, and probably a plethora of other variables that I am unaware of.  Because her type of focus was something that I lacked early on and took me time to develop – time that I lost out on.

Time that I hope you don’t.

You see – I’m absolutely positive that the productive qualities that Brenda exhibits derive from her focus.  It is that focus that has allowed her to graduate college at 21 and I’m sure it will be that focus that will take her on trips to those far away lands she desires to see.

So our first lesson for surviving your 20’s is focus.  It’ll be that focus that will lead you into success as you age and hopefully down the path of your dreams. 

“And a man without a focus, life could drive him insane.”

Mario – Determination

Mario is 10 years my junior and in many ways his story mirrors mine.  For one, we both had children by the time we were 20.  Except that I can truthfully say Mario’s determination far exceeded my own at that age.

And it has been that determination to better his life for the sake of others, that has led my good friend to graduate college at the age of 21, all while working and helping to maintain a home.  In fact, that determination has taken him to graduate school in New York, where he currently works full-time while attending classes over the weekend.  Undoubtedly paving a brighter future for his son and family.

I believe it is determination that leads a man down the righteous path, in spite of circumstances, and regardless of the odds. 

That’s essential to remember in your youth.  Because life will have it’s challenges and sometimes you will lose.  Yet, it must be your determination to rise when you fail if you are to survive your 20’s and lead a life you can claim as your own – rather than one dictated by the fates.

Jamie – Hard Work

Jamie is my brother, and even though he will never be as awesome as I am, I’d be a foolish man to not recognize the work ethic he has always exhibited since his youth.  It has been a striving diligence that allowed my brother to flourish in his twenties and which is has led to his amazing success as he ages.

His willingness to go above and beyond, to work when others wouldn’t, to fight the good fight when even at the throws of defeat, has turned potential to reality.  A reality in which he can now exercise greater authority over his own livelihood.

But that success wasn’t bred from mere luck.  It was a success created from hard work.  It was a success born during those days he worked long hours at Charlotte Russe, then coming home to do homework, and make me dinner when my parents were living out of town.  It has been hard work that has taken my brother from a simple mall worker to a bank teller to current Vice President of his department.

And it will be that same work ethic, that he still exhibits to this day, that will continue to push him past boundaries and onto new horizons.

Me – Dream

Again, I’m probably not the best person to give you advice about meaningful living in your 20’s.  Maybe I’m being a bit to self-deprecating.  Or maybe I’m just trying to be honest about who I am. 

But if there is something I can offer to all you younglings out there, it’s to dream.

Yes, take care of business.  Of course you should work hard.  Attend classes.  Get that degree. Find that job that’ll set you up for a decent living. 

But don’t forget to find the time dream.  And too follow that dream.  If it’s traveling the world.  Working towards law school. Starting a business.  Creating world-changing art.  Dream that dream and try your damnedest to get it done.

And even it doesn’t all come to fruition in your 20’s.  Keep reaching for it…

Maybe I’m just a fool.  But the hopes and dreams that I’ve carried with me since my 20’s are what keep me waking up everyday and working towards a better life. 

In fact my dreams of writing professionally are finally becoming a reality now that I am 31 (cough cough still young). 

So I say dream dreamer of what dreams may come.  Dream dreamer dream.