Why I Don’t Believe Older People, or 10 Cruel Truths They Forgot to Tell Me

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3) Tired does not mean productive

When I was little, everybody said that coming home from work tired is good, only then would I be useful to society and feel I was contributing. Today they must be happy.

We are all hurrying, we can’t keep up. Work, conferences, meetings, deadlines, plans. We are so “useful” and “contributing” that we don’t have enough time for our family or to sleep. E-mails and text messages shoot out from our mobile phones as though they are small-calibre firearms, a diary full of tasks gives us a feeling of irreplaceability and importance. Unfortunately, it’s an illusion.

Exhaustion from work is not a virtue for which anybody should respect or praise us. Only occasionally does tiredness equal productivity and actual usefulness. How many people create value that this world really needs and we ourselves want? Is tiredness not more a consequence of an inability to organise our time, keep to our priorities, honour values and be able to say no when we should? Are we not mice running round a wheel—we don’t stop, but we don’t move from the spot either.

Adults taught me that they need this artificial world. That only being busy gives me a feeling that I am alive. That this gives my life sense. It was an illusion, unsustainable in the long run, nonsensical and dangerous. I am afraid that one day we will wish that in the past we spent a lot less time on the nonsensical game of productivity and more time building what really makes sense. Because only that is productivity.

4) A fall usually comes before success

In childhood a mistake is something bad, embarrassing, reprehensible. If a person made a mistake, he should be ashamed of himself. He got an F at school and a thrashing at home to go with it. God, how low we have fallen!

Most errors in life are unavoidable. When we’re born, we’re a blank page. No progress happens without us going to places we have not been before. Places that we did not know—that we had to get used to and stumble in through lack of experience—at least for the first time, because the second time we had experience and stood firm.

Adults criticised us because they themselves were perfect. My uncle gave me a slap for smoking that was so hard his cigarette fell out of his other hand. A girl in my class who got pregnant at 16 was beaten almost unconscious by her 31-year-old mother. One of my friends, who didn’t pass his secondary school-leaving exam at the first attempt, had his computer smashed by his dad, who himself only had an elementary education. I know no greater hypocrites than adults. I stopped discussing my mistakes with them. I handle them myself now.

Whenever I commit an error, I try to forgive myself. Not get angry with myself. Because it’s no shame to make a mistake. The shame is not learning. If we’re afraid of failure, we won’t be able to take the necessary steps to improve, to succeed.

Mistakes were supposed to be my enemy. They’re my best friend. Because, in contrast to adults, they taught me the main difference between a master and a beginner: a master is a person who has far more failures than a beginner has attempts.

Behind every big failure there are lots of little failures. Success is like a puzzle. A beautiful big picture made up of a lot of smaller pictures. In the same way, success is the result of previous failures. You can’t see failures in a person. Because their aggregate is what is visible: success.

5) Talking about working hard and actually working hard are two different things

I wanted success. I thought hard about it. But it didn’t come.

I wondered why. I was like an adult, I talked a lot and made promises. But then I found out that the result of what we do is not what we tell ourselves or others. That university, which was to be the key to a rich life, is worthless to me if I don’t use the knowledge I gained anywhere. That success does not go to those who are waiting for it, but dodges among those who work hard to attain their aims.

Then I stopped listening to adults who said that everything would come itself. I asked myself what was really important to me and then I gathered the courage to build my entire life around the answer. I suppose it’s like a developer building a satellite town.

Any knowledge is completely worthless without action. And if we intend to wait for a perfect moment to act, we could end up waiting the rest of our lives. And always with the feeling that others are “lucky”, have a “better fate” and similar nonsense. Only what we do counts.

Are you still interested in forgotten truths 6-10?

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