I remember a conversation I had with my father back in 2014.
It was an exciting time for me:
- My side project started earning what felt like some decent money (maybe $3,000 a month?)
- I was newly married, living with my wife in a cute, dark little apartment in Roscoe Village
- I was working full time with friends out of a trendy loft space in west Chicago.
In other words, I finally started to get the sense that I was becoming a “real adult.” No longer tied to my college hand-holding. Moved on out of the city I grew up in. Making a life of my own.
But, I had no idea how the life I was building compared to or stacked up against what a “normal” life looked like.
- Was I earning enough?
- Was I learning enough?
- Was I on the right track for a successful future?
I thought I had a pretty great childhood. I wanted to be sure I could afford the conditions that I was provided.
But I had no concept of what kind of hard work or financial growth was required to even allow for that.
The only way for me to understand what I had was to get a peek behind the curtain.
It wasn’t until that conversation that I really started to understand how fortunate I had been. It blindsided me.
I had learned that what I had was so much more than what my parents had at my age. I learned that what I had took decades for them to accomplish.
How could I be so naive? You don’t know what you don’t know.
We’re all handed these mystery boxes in our lives.
Some of the contents can be traded. Others are required to stay.
We sort through our boxes like Christmas morning, unwrapping the unknowns with anticipation, feeling tense and uncomfortable with the gifts we know aren’t a great fit for us, feeling excitement when the box contains something we know we’ll use, and doing our best to feel grateful regardless for everything along the way.
Someone might look over your shoulder at your box and show envy, jealousy, doubt, or aversion.
Sometimes, they’re objectively right. Sometimes, it’s just their opinion.
But, how else do you know if your box is the best one for you without looking at the contents of other boxes?
I’m committed to trying not to have empty desire for someone else’s box.
I’m committed to being open about my box and sharing with others, especially if they believe the contents would help improve their own lives.
I’ll keep communicating with others about their boxes to see if there are ways I can improve my own.
I’m learning to appreciate my mystery box.