You’ll Never be the Person You Wish to be

February 10, 2014 — 15 Comments

That’s right, you’ll never be the person you wish to be – I’ll bet you money on it.  It may sound a little mean at first, but it’s only reality, right?

You'll Never be the Person You Wish to be

We thought it’d be cool to be a “Yogi”… until we traveled to SE Asia and realized the only people who do yoga are from Western cultures!

In Self Reliance, Emerson wrote, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood shed with them.”

We give up, we settle, and we change.  When I was young, my ambitions were to become President of the United States or at least procure another formidable political position.  As a teenager, my focus went towards the Air Force Academy and flying  jets.  After changing my mind and by not pursuing a path to the Academy, I decided I’d go into the corporate world and someday become a big CEO.

Have I disassembled my bridge to the moon so I could start building my wood shed?  Possibly.  Have I given up the dreams of my youth in pursuit of a more realistic living?  Maybe.  Have I changed since I was a kid?  Definitely.

There’s an old saying that things are never as bad or as good as they seem.  Remember when I told you about the millionaire who’s still searching for his dream job?  Surely, most of us would think if we hit millionaire status, then we’d be getting what we wished.

You’ll never be the person you wish to be because you never really know the truths of becoming that person.  You may wish to be a rich person who gives away incredible amounts of money to charity, but what happens when everybody and their uncle starts beating down your door and asking for money?  Are you going to fit the image of the person you wished to be?

I’m currently on the “corporate world” path, and I’m doing quite well at it, but I don’t think I’d ever want to become the CEO of a big company because of what it means.  My life would become the life of the company and my personal life would struggle.  Sure, some people are able to pull it off, but experiencing the stress that comes with my position today just barely clues me in to the kind of stress that would come with a major CEO position in corporate America.

By the time you hit the mark you might have set years ago when you wished to become something, your reality has vastly changed.  You’ve learned new things and you might know what you want or don’t want.  We change and that’s a good thing.

Emerson’s quote makes it sound like our building of sheds is always a bad thing, but I don’t think it is.  Do you realize how much work would come with building a bridge to the moon or building a palace?  Come on, the Taj Mahal took tens of thousands of workers twenty two years to build!

In the end, I’m going to contradict myself, because I’m guessing someone with more wisdom than me can prove me wrong.  I’m guessing you can become the person you wish to be if you focus on attainable goals and things like contentment and self improvement.  However, for those of us who are still in the mindset of Emerson, we’re not ready to fully tear down our bridges to the moon.

I recently read a quote from a lost Martin Luther King, Jr. speech where he quoted a slave… who said, “Lord, we ain’t what we oughta be. We ain’t what we want to be. We ain’t what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain’t what we was.”  Maybe we should just be happy to be moving in the right direction.

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15 responses to You’ll Never be the Person You Wish to be

  1. On the flip side, sometimes you find yourself far beyond what you believed you could be. Just in the way you look at things, I suppose.

    • Nami – totally agree, my two proudest accomplishments in life are much better than I ever would have hoped for – marrying my wife, and traveling the world for nine months!

  2. I really enjoyed this thoughtfully written post Dan. I agree, our dreams, goals and desires when we’re young are without knowledge. Good or bad, once we have that knowledge, all that shifts as we move to what we are meant to be and do. Then there’s me, still trying to figure it out… LOL.

  3. Dan — love this story. I’m at an age and point in my life that I pretty much know who I am and I’m comfortable with that. No more bridges to build. I’m not still trying to figure it out. I just try to be and live for each day and cherish my friends and my family. Total contentment is an impossible goal. So be content with what you have and who you are now.

    • That’s awesome Jeannette – also good to know we never have to worry about finding total contentment… trying to live for each day and treat our friends and family right is hard enough!

  4. One of my favorite movie lines of all time comes from the movie Legend. The demon at one point says to the hero, “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity.”

    Seems so very harsh, and that is how many of us look on our past. But opportunities lost isn’t as bad as it seems when you look at the trade offs you made in the process. Many times as we age and look back on what we have accomplished those bridges to the moon seem so much smaller by comparison

    • Jon – great point… I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today without the adversities that I’ve faced. For example, I remember the huge sense of accomplishment I felt when I took my first few steps after rupturing my Achilles tendon… much more satisfying than any athletic feat I’d ever accomplished.

  5. Great story. I guess making progress in life is the thing to do.

  6. Forward movement is good movement, even though at times it can feel like going backward. Funny how philosophical talk tends to take on circular tones. Your post made me think about Emerson’s concept of the transparent eyeball and how most people don’t or are incapable of really seeing. Of course that begs the question of who decides… and so the search continues.

    • Haha, that’s so true Jeri! I guess that’s why action is often more important than talk. I’ll have to read on the transparent eyeball concept, I haven’t heard of that before.

  7. In pursuit of purpose,the “drawing board” continues to change. Thank goodness for dry erase markers

  8. Very nicely said Dan. I also agree with you. After many years of doing what I am good at versus what I want, my efforts are turning back to what I want while still doing what I am good at. One day that ‘what I am good at’ can fall by the wayside, at least that’s the goal. 🙂

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