One of the most interesting things, as I age, is how I perceive the person that I was when I was younger. I can reflect on the mistakes I’ve made, and what came from them. Growing up, for me, was a series of difficult moments, but none more so than becoming an adult. The transition is a rocky one. I was lucky enough to have some small sense, some tiny idea, of what I wanted to do for a job. I lacked motivation, focus, drive or even a strong sense of who I was. Things that I still struggle with today.
As I entered adulthood, I watched my brother begin his struggle, and it reminded me of the choices I made. I watched as we went along very different paths. We both had some similarities in personalities, and the outcomes to his decisions resonated deeply within me. Sometimes, I cringed as I watched him do something that lead to frustration or disappointment. Envious, I got to see and hear him live through some amazing experiences that have shaped him as a man.
Now, at thirty, I am watching one of my cousins enter into adulthood. Different than both my brother and myself, his decisions still remind me of what I went through. I’d love to save him from the negative experiences that I went through, but I know he has to make his own decisions. I’d love to see him succeed in ways that I never did. The things in him that I critique, that I see as weaknesses, I know that I share. I know that I could have easily given in, and let distraction rule my life. Seeming to enjoy wallowing in an endless cycle of fake victories. The spikes of dopamine making me feel like what I was doing had value. I know it would have been a waste of my potential, one of many, some taken and some avoided.
Who will he be in a year, five years, or even a decade from now? I am not certain. My biggest hope is that he won’t look back as I do and see regrets that still hound him. I don’t have a bad life. In some ways, I’m successful, happy, and I’m engaged to a wonderful woman. But some of the choices I made have caused me great stress, pain and frustration, and I know at least a small bit of what I experienced could have been avoided if I had a role model to confide in, and trusted.
Sometimes though, when talking with my cousin, it is hard for me to look beyond my own reflection and see that he is his own man, trying to figure things out for himself, and wanting a little more time to be a child.