Every individual on earth is a product of the environment in which he or she was raised. Throughout our lives, we carry with us the joys and traumas of our childhood, guiding us through the choices we make in our relationships, in our careers, and in every aspect of our lives. No one has the perfect, happy childhood of fairy tales, but it is our experiences that make us who we are as adults. The key, though, is to make sure that we, as individuals, recognize when those experiences are negatively affecting us and do what is necessary to repair ourselves. We have that ability and it is our choice. And once you reach the age of 30, there's no one to blame but yourself for the choices you make.
So, here you are later in life. Maybe you’re 40, divorced, two kids and seemingly stuck in a “sucky” job. Is it your parents’ fault that you’re here? Not really. Granted, your parents didn’t exactly set the best example of marriage. Maybe they fought constantly or one of your parents was never home – they just didn’t know how to be married and couldn’t set a good example, but maybe you should have realized that before you got married.
What about your job? You’re the one who never went to college and chose a career where a degree would be helpful (if not necessary) – so what if your parents wouldn’t (or couldn’t) pay for it. You had the ability to get a job and make the money to pay for it yourself. Yes, you might have struggled to make ends meet, but no one was stopping you. How about those kids? You made the choice and would never change things, but wouldn’t life have been a little easier if you’d finished school first? There’s no going back, but you do have a choice as to how tackle the future.
Life is about choices. We either choose to work around and learn from our childhood traumas and our own mistakes, or we don’t.
You know that guy down the hall? You know - the one who’s making twice what you do? Did it ever occur to you that his childhood may have been just as messed up as yours? Suppose he spent years listening to his parents fight all the time, then one of his parents left and the other struggled to put food on the table. How is it that he is successful today and he’s still married to that girl he met his senior year of school? Choices – he made a conscious decision to put his life in order and not make the same mistakes his parents did. Maybe he looked at his parents’ relationship and figured out how to avoid that kind of marriage, with or without professional help. Maybe his parents taught him the value of an education and he pursued it, working two jobs to get through college, his determination reinforced by his own childhood experiences. Maybe they didn’t teach him the importance of an education, but he looked at the successful people around him and realized that an education could help him get ahead. Maybe he learned by watching the decisions of his friends – his best buddy in high school got his girlfriend pregnant when they were 16, making him realize how hard life would be if he did the same. Sure, he hasn’t made all the best decisions (he did buy a Yugo in college), but he’s made it a point to learn from his own mistakes and/or those of his friends. He’s made the choice.
We all make choices. We must appreciate the good ones and learn from our bad ones.
Maybe you haven’t made the world’s greatest choices for your life up to this point, but what is stopping you from taking all those mis-steps and not-so-great decisions, and turning your life around? No, it’s not your parents, it’s you. You must make the decision to start making better choices for yourself, your life and your family, if you even have a family. No one can make you go to college besides you – whether it’s traditional or technical - IF that's the best choice for you. No one can make you examine your relationships, and why they are the way they are, but you. You have the ability to turn things around, no matter how old you are. It is your choice.
No one’s life is perfect and no one’s life is easy, it’s just a fact. Each of us has our own little faults and screwed up histories, but we have the power within ourselves to make things better. Ultimately, it is our own responsibility to identify and correct the mistakes of our parents, ourselves and anyone else that played a significant role in our childhood. We really can learn to make better choices. I did.
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